Hello, I live in Edmonton and am having a hard time deciding a few things. I recently learned about UNE positions and would like some feedback from those who are (or were) undergrad nursing employees.
- How competitive is it to get hired as a UNE?
- Do employers take into consideration past work experience during the hiring process, whether it is health-related or not? What types of things are they looking for concerning work history?
- I read on the Alberta Health Services website that a minimum of 450 clinical hours is required to work in a variety of healthcare settings but only a minimum 100 clinical hours to work in continuing care facilities as nursing attendants/psychiatric aides (but that "pre-service curriculum may be required"). Has anyone worked as a nursing attendant/psychiatric aide under these circumstances? What curriculum did you have to take?
I'm asking these questions because I don't know if I should go ahead with a health care aide program this fall or just try for the UNE route once I get into a nursing program. I'm having doubts because the HCA program costs a few thousand dollars and I'm unsure about the hours I'm willing to work as a HCA when I do eventually get into a nursing program.
Thanks in advance.
Jun 19, '12
Just to clarify: you are not currently a nursing student, correct?
OK, we have UNEs each year on my unit. Some have had NA experience, others haven't. Frankly, the better UNEs are the ones who have worked as NAs, they don't get phased when they are required to perform am/hs care.
Getting hired is a lottery. Nobody has figured out how AHS is doing it. Usually our unit is told who we are getting and they appear on a certain date. Having said that, don't expect to work straight days, have three weeks vacation and be welcomed with open arms. We've had UNEs in the past who expected to work M-F 7-15 and were upset when told they had to work to the unit's shift pattern. We've had others who want to come in for the two weeks orientation and then take four weeks off and come back and finish up until school goes back.
It's a committment and you get more out of it if you work the entire hiring season. It's stressful on the staff to do orientation, and then repeat it a month later after the UNE returns tanned and rested.
The number of UNE vacancies changes from year to year depending on what AHS allocates for funding. Some years there have been very few hired (like 1 per unit) and others there have been 2 on a unit, other years we haven't seen UNEs (they kind of disappeared under the Duckett regime).
I work Acute Care and know that UNEs wind up in LTC, don't expect clinics or outpatients.
Jun 20, '12
Thanks Fiona59. Are UNE's hired only during school breaks or do they stick around for the entire year? I'm not a nursing student yet but I want to apply within the next year or so (I still have one more prerequisite to do). I've been accepted into the health care aide program at NorQuest College and am just thinking over a lot of things at the moment... namely, if it's really worth it to go through with the HCA program. I'm having a difficult time finding a decent job right now and I don't want to work retail (the only place I'm qualified to work, really) before and during nursing school so I'm seeing what my options are. But from what you've posted, it seems like I have a better chance as an NA than a UNE. If I decide to do the HCA program, I'm just worried what potential employers might expect of me concerning hours... I still want to work while in nursing school but I don't want many hours. I'm curious how accommodating LTC and hospitals are with nursing students who are NAs?