Judicial review application to set aside decisions of university nursing program and university appeal board denying request to retake practicum program

24. December 2013 0

Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – University Appeal Board – Nurses – Professional governance and discipline – Training requirements – Attempt – definition – Universities – Students – Evaluation – Judicial review – Applications

Chen v. University of Saskatchewan, [2013] S.J. No. 655, 2013 SKQB 367, Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench, October 8, 2013, R.S. Smith J.

The applicant, a nursing student, had completed all courses needed to graduate from the Nursing Education Program at the College of Nursing of the University of Saskatchewan, except for two final practicum courses. The applicant’s first practicum ended after three days when the preceptor terminated the practicum for patient safety reasons. The applicant retook and failed the second course in the practicum program. According to the Nursing College’s rules, a student can only “attempt” to complete a class twice unless special permission is granted by the Nursing Administration Committee (“NAC”).

The applicant applied to the NAC requesting an opportunity to retake the practicum program. The NAC’s decision was made on the basis of a written request. The NAC denied the request to retake the practicum program. The applicant appealed the NAC’s decision to the University Appeal Board (“UAB”). The UAB conducted a hearing. The UAB dismissed the applicant’s appeal.

The applicant applied to the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench for judicial review. The applicant’s primary argument on judicial review was that it was unreasonable for the NAC and UAB to characterize the applicant’s first attendance at the practicum program, which ended after three days, as an “attempt.” As the applicant had no reasonable opportunity to work through the practicum, it could not be considered an “attempt.” If it were not an “attempt,” the applicant could take the practicum one more time without obtaining special permission from the NAC.

The court characterized the issue of whether the first attendance at the practicum program was an “attempt” as a finding that conceptually overlaps between a finding of fact and issue of law. That finding was owed deference. The court concluded it was not unreasonable to characterize the first attendance as an “attempt.” The application for judicial review was dismissed.

This case was digested by Joel A. Morris of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at jmorris@harpergrey.com or review his biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.

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