Graduate Student Resources and Services

Conflict of Interest Policy

The goals of a clinical practicum include knowledge and skill development in the areas of clinical practice, administration, education and research. In the practicum experience, the learner role takes precedence. The key issue is that new learning is occurring to meet course objectives. During a clinical practicum, a real or perceived conflict of interest may occur. These guidelines are intended to minimize the possibility of a conflict of interest occurring.

Clinical Practical Guidelines

  1. Graduate students who are provided financial support from an employer during the time that they are completing practicum hours must work collaboratively with both their faculty member and their employer to ensure that their practicum hours are designed to meet the learning objectives of the course.
  2. When a student is employed in a clinical, educator, administrator or researcher role, the regular duties that pertain to that role may not be credited toward practicum hours required as part of a course in the MN or PhD program. If the practicum is arranged at the student’s work setting, the time credited must specifically address the learning objectives of the course and represent new learning for the student.
  3. Students are encouraged to develop projects (assignments, capstone projects, theses) that are relevant to the clinical agencies, however objectives must be developed in collaboration with the student, the agency and the academic supervisor prior to the commencement of the project. Consensus must be reached and the agreement finalized in writing before the student begins the project.
  4. The willingness to decline a salary or an honorarium for sessional work is not sufficient to ensure that the learner is not in a conflict of interest situation.
  5. Special cases that fall outside of these guidelines must be approved by the course instructor and the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies prior to implementation.

Recommended strategies to avoid conflict of interest in relation to practica:

  • ensure that a letter of agreement between faculty member and preceptor is completed prior to each practicum experience
  • ensure that the learning objectives of the practicum are congruent with the learning objectives of the course AND that this is new learning for the student
  • ensure that the student’s regular work with an employer is not included in the practicum hours
  • ensure that the primary role of the student in any practicum is as a student
  • consult the University of Alberta Guidelines for graduate students employed as sessional instructors (see below)

Guideline for graduate students employed as sessional instructors:

In May 2005 FGSR revised their policy to enable sessional instructors to enroll as graduate students in the department where they are teaching. For further information about the FGSR policy please see the Graduate Program Manual.

Learners entering a Graduate Program in the Faculty of Nursing will be made aware of these guidelines by the Graduate Office. Subsequent to this, it will be the responsibility of each student to inform the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies of a potential or actual conflict of interest situation.

The specific section of the manual reads as follows:
University of Alberta staff (academic or support) may be recommended and considered for admission to graduate programs provided the FGSR has reviewed the case and established that conflict of interest between the candidate's role as staff member and as graduate student will be absent or minimal. Any department wishing to recommend admission of a University staff member to a graduate program should first consult with the Associate Dean, FGSR. 
The department offering a graduate program for a University of Alberta staff member:

  • shall inform the FGSR in writing of the proposed program prior to its beginning and indicate that the possibility of any conflict of interest between the student's role as a staff member and as a graduate student has been considered and will be avoided; and
  • shall consult with the Dean, FGSR concerning the advisability of having a supervisory committee member nominated directly by the Dean.

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies
Faculty of Nursing
Updated June 1, 2007