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Challenges Faced By Internationally Trained Nurses In Canada

Only one-third of all internationally educated nurses who apply for licensure to work in Canada are successful.

Yet improvements to the assessment support, education and licensing process of internationally educated nurses have been estimated to double their success rate.

Nurses need to meet several requirements as they vary by province and a professional designation, in some provinces there may also be additional requirements such as proof of Canadian work experience and the completion of a jurisprudence exam.

One of the main barriers internationally educated nurses face is the assessment of their foreign nursing credentials.

in Ontario, during the 2012 full calendar year, 5,500 new applicants were received from internationally educated nurses, not including the U.S. Only 32 percent had completed their licensure within one year.

In contrast during the same period of the 10,000 Ontario trained nursing applications, 74% had resulted in full licensure within one year.

During the assessment of foreign nursing credentials nursing regulatory bodies must evaluate whether education and training obtained abroad are equivalent to Canadian nursing programs in order to ensure patient safety, quality of healthcare services, and uphold nursing standards.

Nursing bridging programs are designed to address gaps and differences in education and competencies, so internationally educated nurses may become registered to practice in Canada.

These programs allow internationally educated nurses to gain required training for their licensure process without duplicating their entire nursing education.

When foreign nursing credentials are not accepted by regulators, applicants must complete a one-time fee-based competency examination which includes a written and a clinical component, the objective, structure, clinical examinations or Oski.

Internationally educated nurses and practitioners from educational institutions have attested to its high difficulty level and low pass rate.

Certainly, there are challenges for internationally educated nurses in having their foreign credentials recognized by the nursing regulatory agencies in Canada.

There are some innovations that have been developed for example, the Canadian nursing Association has been looking at offshore examination centers that would streamline the process for internationally educated nurses.

In addition to that, in Ontario, the office of the fairness commissioner and their mandate is to maintain at all professional regulators in their process of assessment to maintain impartiality, fairness, transparency, and objectivity.

The office of the fairness commissioner’s an agency of the provincial government.

It works at arm’s length from the government and its purpose really is to ensure that individuals who are applying for licensure are treated fairly in the licensing process.

There should be greater support both from within the College of Nurses of Ontario to help those people through the transition, as well as from bridging programs and from governments and other sources.

Researchers and practitioners have identified the challenges that international Nurses encounter when they are seeking their credential recognition as a registered nurse.

In some cases, when they are unable to achieve that credential recognition they may apply to become registered practical nurses which is a lesser regulated health professional.

In other cases, there is a trend towards entering the health system as a personal support worker.

These are non-regulated opportunities in the health field so our interest in the Internationalization of Nursing labor markets is an area for research and policy analysis to focus on going forward.

we have certainly seen evidence of flexibilization in the nursing sector and this is evidenced by the increasing use of part-time and contract positions and, internationally educated Nurses are integrated into that changing labor market.

We are also witnessing an increase in the international mobility of health professionals, so in this changing system, the authorities do need to pay attention to the rights of internationally educated nurses because protecting the rights of that sector really helps to maintain the integrity of the healthcare sector as a whole.

Internationally trained nurses remain determined to work in Canada and will continue to provide an important part of Canada’s healthcare system.


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