The provincial government has announced $12-million to reduce barriers in the process for internationally educated nurses to become licensed and registered to practice in B.C.
According to the province, the current process can take between 18 months to two years for internationally educated nurses (IEN) to become licensed and registered to practice.
The process includes completing credential and competency assessments, English language assessments, and submitting documents to multiple agencies.
Currently, the cost for the process is up to $8,200, not including costs to travel to Vancouver for assessment, or costs to upgrade education if required.
“For internationally educated nurses it is a challenging road when you come to Canada to work, or to seek work in Canada, to get accredited and get into a position where you can practice what you’ve learned,” said Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health. “The process for internationally educated nurses is complex, it’s costly, and it’s lengthy.”
To support IEN’s in this process, the province will supply $9,030,000 in bursaries, $1,200,000 to streamline the assessment process, and $2,050,000 for recruitment supports.
For the assessment process, nurses currently have to take up to three assessments, to be registered as a Health Care Assistant, Licensed Practical Nurse, and Registered Nurse.
Now, there will be one assessment that simultaneously tests for all three, and reduces assessment times from four to six hours per profession to a single two-hour test.
“That means that an internationally educated nurse seeking designation as a registered nurse will also be assessed for designation as a licensed practical nurse and they will only have to pay one assessment fee,” Dix said.
The province has provided funding for approximately 1,500 IENs, and each will receive a minimum of $1,500, to a maximum of $16,000 if undertaking educational upgrading.
“I‘m enthusiastic about the bursaries that will remove even more barriers for internationally educated nurses,” said Mable Elmore, parliamentary secretary for seniors’ services and long-term care. “I know that that’s often identified as a very challenging and difficult cost that really prohibits IENs from pursuing to have their credentials recognized.”
Costs eligible for the grants include the National Nursing Assessment Service application, part of the cost of the application to the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives, English language testing, Nursing Community Assessment, and travel and accommodations.
The recruitment supports will include hiring nurse navigators to help navigate the licensing process, and a new website to provide information.
“This announcement today is a game changer,” said Cynthia Johansen, CEO of the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives. “The announcements today signal in my mind a significant shift in how we support internationally educated nurses to find the right job at the right time for their skill set. These changes will I think make a huge difference to the lives of internationally educated nurses who want to and choose to work in British Columbia.”