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Student nurses organise

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gav's picture
gav
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Aug 10 2005 17:31
Student nurses organise

Here’s an account of a pretty exciting day at school for me today (Admin edit - This happened yesterday, at a university in London, where I am a student nurse - Gav)

Everyone at school has been getting really pissed off recently with the structure of our course and some of the lecturers. there are extended periods of very little school, or pointless lectures followed by very intensive teaching of really important subjects. We had only 5 weeks to learn all our anatomy and physiology, and again only 5 weeks for a nursing skills unit, which are easily the most important units in the whole course. All throughout these units, the lecturers have constantly told us how difficult the exams are, and how many students fail them (50-60% failure rate). It just so happens that both of these exams (the only exams of the year) are two days apart in November. We also have an essay to hand in a week before the exam. Everyone is already starting to get stressed out by the thought of the exams, so god knows what the stress levels will be like in November. Also its worth pointing out our school year starts and ends in March, so there would be plenty of time to have an exam in November and the other one in February.

There are 50 people taking the same course and we are currently doing 3 different units, with 12 of us taking the same one as me. So today, me and a mate got talking about the upcoming exams and how stressful they will be, we came to the conclusion that we should do something about it, so we started talking to the other 10 people. They all felt the same way, so we all agreed to have a meeting after the end of lectures. Every single person turned up, and we had a very quick meeting. It was quick because everyone was in complete agreement. We agreed our problem was having exams too close together, which were stressful, and also not conducive to 'proper' learning. Ie we could learn 6 topics for the exam, but we wouldnt have time to revise the other topics due to time constraints caused by the other essays and exams. We came to the conclusion that this would only help us pass an exam but not to make us safe practitioners after we qualify, because we would have been forced to neglect revision of non-exam topics. Most people agreed that the university has a policy of taking on more students than it could provide for (and hence getting more funding) but then by a variety of methods (lack of support, stressful exams, etc) would force students to leave throughout the year (and hence end up with the correct number of students). Its worth pointing out that there were other problems identified, but everyone agreed this was the most pressing and most worth persuing. So our main demand, was to have one exam in November, and move the other one back to February, and also to delay the essay.

What I found really exciting was everyone immediately said we needed to have a meeting of all the students, to properly discuss this, so we agreed to have one tomorrow (we have a 'formal' structure available to us for complaints, ie individually complain to the course leader, or tell the student rep and get them to complain. But this route was never discussed because it was automatically assumed that it wouldnt work, and that 'direct action' (my words) was the best way forward). We agreed we had to all work together, or it wouldn’t be worth bothering. We didn’t want to send a representative to meet the course leader, but we all wanted to be there. We also agreed that the course leader needed us more than we needed them, and that if they wouldn’t agree to our demands we would not turn up for the exams (everyone was up for striking). Someone added that we needed to identify potential sell-outs at tomorrows meeting, because we didn’t want some to go brown nosing to the course leader on their own to tell them what we are up to.

Everyone left feeling really positive, because if we win, this year would be much less stressful.

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Steven.
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Aug 10 2005 18:38

Wow nice one gav! Way to go comrade

let us know how things progress, eh?

pingtiao's picture
pingtiao
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Aug 10 2005 18:52

Yes, very encouraging mate. Funny how these forms of struggle seem natural, eh?

gav's picture
gav
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Aug 10 2005 20:41
pingtiao wrote:
Yes, very encouraging mate. Funny how these forms of struggle seem natural, eh?

yeah, only took 3-4 hours, ill let you know what happens tomorrow after the big meeting.

Mike Harman
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Aug 10 2005 21:19

Gav. That's really good. I reckon we should have stuff like this in the organise section as well - short accounts of things like that make good reading.

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gav
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Aug 11 2005 16:05

Right, just got back from school, and long story short, we won! So I am really really happy.

We finished classes around 12:30 and all 12 people stayed behind for the meeting. Unfortunately another class finished at 11:30 and out of the 17 people in that class, only 4 people stayed behind. I think they only got word that there was a meeting, and not much other information, so they didn’t feel motivated to stay behind. But if we had managed to speak to them yesterday they all would have stayed for the meeting (being realistic though, it wasn’t possible to speak to them yesterday). However they all signed a sheet of paper saying they supported the changes we wanted. We then found an empty room to meet in, right next door to the final class of nurses, knowing they finished in half an hour. That location worked extremely well, because everyone from their class joined the meeting through a mixture of agreeing with what we proposed and plain curiosity. I started things off by saying why our class was pissed off, what solution we proposed and what tactics we suggested we used. There followed an hour of lively debate, but of a very focussed nature, there was no disagreement about what the problem was, or the tactics we should use. The main disagreement was about what date we should demand the exam be rescheduled to. It ended with three quarters of the class wanting the exam moved to February and the other quarter wanting it to be moved only a couple weeks. Some one then raised the point about boycotting exams, and asked how many students would state now, that they definitely wouldn’t participate. About two thirds of us raised our hands. This really annoyed one nurse and she rephrased the question, “Who here would take the exam, even if we had all agreed to boycott them?” No one put their hands up, and everyone recognised the importance of point that was made. We then kept discussing dates, but couldn’t come to any agreement that everyone agreed. Finally it was decided that we should all add our names to the 17 signatures already made, turn it into a petition and take it to our ‘boss’. We also recognised that we couldn’t set a date for rescheduling on the petition, because the people who signed before we left hadn’t agreed to any dates. So we wrote our demands (approximately) as follows:

We will not sit our exam on the 25th of November, but will reschedule it to a later date. We will also reschedule our upcoming essay. We do not feel the current scheduling is condusive to our long term learning, but merely to learn for an exam. We feel this will adversely effect the standard of training we receive and lead to more unsafe practice.

We knew our immediate ‘boss’ was on holiday, so we decided to hand in the petition and lay down an ultimatum to the ‘bosses’ boss’. It turned out she wasn’t in, so we ended up going to the next person up, who as well as working in the university, was the chairperson of the exam board. Out of 50 students, 43 were in school today, every single person signed the petition we drew up, 30 attended the meeting after school, and about 20 delivered the petition. We all gathered outside her office, and saw she was having a meeting, because the door was open. We then told her we wanted to speak to her. She tried to fob us with “I’m busy”, “I have a meeting coming up”, “Can I meet up with 3 of you to discuss this?” (to which we said, no, we all want to speak to you) and finally “There isn’t a room large enough for all of us” (we said we were happy to speak to her outside if she wanted more room). She then capitulated, and agreed to find a room and meet us in 5 minutes. We made our demands, she surprisingly, agreed with us, and 10 minutes later we walked out having won. I think it was lucky we dealt with her, because she didn’t know any of us, and was taken by surprise, and if we had dealt with our boss, they would have immediately taken offence, and started threatening us, we would have threatened them, and our chance of winning would have gone down. I am still trying to process the events of the last few hours and make sense of everything that happened, but all I know is we won, and I can’t stop smiling.

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Jacques Roux
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Aug 11 2005 16:48

Gav that is fucking cool man... 8) 8) 8) 8)

Really well done! Celebratory night out 2moro wink ;)

redyred
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Aug 12 2005 10:11

Nice one Gav smile

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the button
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Aug 12 2005 10:30

Well done mate. Without wanting to sound patronising, I'm fucking proud of you & all involved.

Garner
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Aug 12 2005 12:10

Fucking brilliant!

8) red n black star

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pingtiao
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Aug 12 2005 12:12

Ha!

smile smile smile

Congratulations mate, that is wicked!

gav's picture
gav
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Aug 12 2005 13:46

cheers for the messages of support guys smile

BB
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Aug 12 2005 15:05

Nice one! 8)

Lazlo_Woodbine
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Aug 12 2005 15:25

Rocking good news 8) circle A

Pepe
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Aug 12 2005 16:06

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Refused
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Aug 14 2005 22:08

We tried something similar but failed miserably, in that we wanted a major course restructuring in terms of units and credits but ended up with just exam re-scheduling and one unit was made compensatable (I still fucking aced it and all). Bastards.

Well done, your lot though. red n black star

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gav
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Apr 9 2006 12:53

thought i might resurrect this thread to give a quick update. since we forced our uni to change the exam dates to allow us to revise properly, the pass rates have gone from 50% to 90% in anatomy, and from 40% to 75% in nursing care. needless to say everyone in my class is glad we worked together, and none of us have had any hassles or repercussions from the higher ups.

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Ramona
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Apr 9 2006 12:55

Wow that's amazing gav!!!! Nice one 8)

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jef costello
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Apr 9 2006 13:01

Fantastic stuff

red n black star

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Steven.
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Apr 9 2006 15:02
gav wrote:
thought i might resurrect this thread to give a quick update. since we forced our uni to change the exam dates to allow us to revise properly, the pass rates have gone from 50% to 90% in anatomy, and from 40% to 75% in nursing care. needless to say everyone in my class is glad we worked together, and none of us have had any hassles or repercussions from the higher ups.

8)