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Unpaid training (or: being a team player but not on our dime)


Specializes in MPH Student Fall/14, Emergency, Research. Has 2+ years experience.

I have to ask this in the Canadian forum, because the situation for our southern neighbors is a bit different when it comes to taking advantage of employees.

I work in homecare as a side job. I recently approached my boss about attending a conference in our city this year. The conference is free and relates to the medication that one of my clients receives (Prolastin). Being as it isn't a common drug, and I'm in homecare with limited learning opportunities, I figured it was a great opportunity to actually get some knowledge around the illness (alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency, looks like COPD).

The answer was yes... but it would be an "unpaid learning opportunity". Um, what?

As if I want to spend my days off going learn about my client's disease process and treatment options. I did that for 4 years in university. I'm done working for free.

But were I to actually express those opinions to my employer, I would get the whole "don't you value learning", "being a nurse is all about continuing competency" etc. etc. But to me, it just reads like the COMPANY doesn't value my learning. I don't think for a second that my boss, or his boss, attends any "unpaid learning opportunities" because they value learning so much.

I don't know where I'm going with this rant. It just seems like employee education in healthcare is a joke. Companies take advantage of nurses wanting to get the knowledge to provide the best possible care, so they make them pay for it out of pocket. Emergency nurses paying for their own ACLS and trauma credentials...IF they can even get a spot in the course. It doesn't make any sense to me. Why WOULDN'T healthcare agencies want their staff credentialed out the wazoo?

In the oil and gas sector, NO WAY would employees be paying for their own training. No way. My relatives in that sector have to turn down training opportunities in order to get their work done half the time, they are so frequent.

Okay I'm done ranting.

Edit: It's a private company, with national coverage - so very large, and very profitable. Maybe this WOULD be appropriate for the general nursing forum...

Edited by flyingchange

joanna73, BSN, RN

Specializes in geriatrics.

The company should be willing to invest in your learning and pay for the day, but everyone is out to cut costs these days.

loriangel14, RN

Specializes in Acute Care, Rehab, Palliative.

I attend workshops and conferences on my own time for my own learning. I guess it would be nice if they paid for your time but they aren't obligated to.If they wweren't going to pay then they can't make you go. I quite often sign up for courses and do them on my own time.My hospital does have an education fund so some of the things I take are covered but not all.

Edited by loriangel14

Silverdragon102, BSN

Specializes in Medical and general practice now LTC. Has 33 years experience.

It varies for me if it is something I really want to go on and I am not working and the company not interested then I will go in my own time but always approach my manager just in case they may pay registration if not time to go


Has 18 years experience.

Does CARNA have an eduction fund? CLPNA has an education fund and will reimburse us for courses attended.

Look at their website. That way, you'd only be out of pocket for your time.

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience.

CARNA does have an "education fund" but they're very stingy with the money. I applied for funding to attend an international conference a few years ago, one that had direct application to my job and my estimated out-of-pocket costs came to nearly $3K. I got $252.47 from CARNA.

I've been denied the opportunity to recertify my PALS, invited to sign up for mandatory specialty recerts on my days off ("We'll work out a day off in lieu later" only we're running on OT so that'll never happen) and refused professional development days for conferences. There is no value placed on continuing education by my employer.

Don't forget according to UNA contract you get 3 paid educational days a year. I work full-time and find this very helpful in order to get paid days off


Has 18 years experience.

CLPNA offers up to $1000/LPN/year from the education grant. I've alway had the fees refunded.

Professional Development Days are usually granted without too much hassle.

NotReady4PrimeTime, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PCVICU and peds oncology. Has 25 years experience.

You only get those three paid educational days IF "operational requirements" permit. I've had most of my more recent PD requests denied for that reason... they couldn't spare me. Or anybody else for that matter. (The contract actually says "a minimum of three".) I've learned how to play dirty and forced their hand this time when I requested PD days by putting the educational opportunity into my goals when I finally had a performance review after nearly 7 years. And I gave them four months' notice. It didn't work for my PALS recert though. That one was denied on the spot.


Has 18 years experience.

I'm seeing more and more favouratism coming into play as well. No matter how busy the unit is, some people always get what they want. Vacation, PD, whatever.

About the only day off they will give you is for union education if you are a steward.


Specializes in Emergency. Has 5+ years experience.

Wow, there must be some favoritism towards certain units as I have never been denied my PD pay, nor have I heard of this from any of my co-workers. Really, it is the least they can do. It used to be that the employer provided all of these courses for free to staff (of course, they were mandatory then).