Student nurses don’t feel safe entering workforce

Even with a training course, many future nurses have worries over safety


By Cala Ali

Langara’s dean of nursing says the nursing program’s violence prevention course prepares students to identify potentially violent situations.

Anne Syme says the mandatory course helps prepare nurses to reduce the risk of being harmed on the job.

Mandatory Safety Courses 

“It’s important for students to be aware that when they enter this intimate space with people that there is both the opportunity for growth and healing, as well as they have to be able to protect themselves, should there be issues where that arises,” said Syme.

Each week in B.C., 20 healthcare workers suffer from injuries due to violence at work. Even though healthcare and social services workers account for 11 per cent of the workforce in B.C. they are involved in 57 per cent of all workplace violence claims, according to the Health Employers Association of B.C.

The violence prevention course was implemented to address the increasing violence against healthcare workers in B.C. The eight hour online course module teaches students how to anticipate and de-escalate potentially violent situations in the workplace.

Hazel Tan, a first-year Langara nursing student from the Philippines said the violence prevention course is important to prepare students how to reduce workplace violence

“I am afraid that some patients or even worse, workmates, will bully me when I get into the workforce,” said Tan.

Tan said that other nurses in the program who are new to Canada think the violence prevention course will help them gain a better understanding of dealing with patient violence.

Behaviour identification techniques

Jennie Takata, a third-year Langara nursing student, said the violence prevention course teaches students to use situational awareness in order to deal with certain dynamics between nurses and patients that indicate if a patient is getting agitated or upset.

“Like, do I have a safe exit to the room? Is there anything they could throw at me? Is there anything around my neck that they could grab?” Takata said these are all things nurses learn to think about when studying the violence prevention course.

Syme said by using the skills taught in the violence prevention course, students learn to be aware of the risks of a violent situation by studying how to anticipate violence and how to protect themselves through cues.

Syme said reminding students they are stepping into people’s space when caring for them is key to “understanding the relationship you have with the people that you work with, in all the ways.”

During clinical experience learning, students learn in a small class size setting which allows instructors to have intensive oversight over their students’ learning, said Syme.

Once their training on nurse violence during their clinical experience is done for the day, students come together for a debriefing session. In these sessions, there is also a student mentor assigned to each group that can assist with any student inquiries.

“We’re very careful, particularly with first term students, we don’t want them coming into nursing with this sort of sense that they need to have self defense skills,” she said.




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