I am the director of Laurentian University's School of Nursing, which offers a bachelor of nursing entirely in French, as well as a program in English. The French-language program is supported by the Consortium national de formation en santé. We have the same admission criteria as for the English-language program, except for an additional requirement related to French since the students study in French. Our program has been approved for the maximum of seven years.
In the past, the majority of our francophone students took the national exam in French. Some of our classes had a very high pass rate on their first try, up to 100%. We also noted that, in the past, those who took the test in English had a lower pass rate since they had studied in French for four years.
In 2015, the majority of our students decided to take the exam in English. In 2016, 100% of students took the exam in English. In 2017, just as many students will take the exam in English. Among the reasons given are the fact that the preparatory resources for the NCLEX-RN exam are available in English only. It has also been pointed out that the translation of the exam is poor. The students said they got this information from other students who had taken the exam.
The consequences of failing the exam have already been mentioned: it can lead to job loss and additional costs.
We conducted a survey among this year's graduates. We asked those who took the French-language program whether, if they could go back in time, they would still choose the French-language program. Only 44% of them said yes, they would, because of the integrity of our program, because they can study in French and are proud of being bilingual, and because they can work in both languages. On the other hand, 28% of them said no, since there was no preparatory material in French for the NCLEX-RN exam and because they felt they really had no choice but to write the exam in English. The remaining 28% were undecided.
If this trend continues, there will be a major impact on the number of francophone graduates and on the health services offered in French to francophone minorities. This also runs counter to the work of the Consortium national de formation en santé, which seeks to increase the number of francophone professionals who can offer services in French.