‘I’m frustrated’: U.S.-trained nurse facing barriers to getting license in B.C.

'I'm frustrated': U.S.-trained nurse facing barriers to getting license in B.C.

Despite provincial government measures to accelerate certification for International Educated Nurses (IEN), a Langford woman can’t seem to get her certification.

Carmen Valles immigrated from the United States one year ago after working in the health-care system in four different states over 15 years. She married her Canadian husband and moved to the Island with the goal of getting her nursing certification so she can work in a hospital as a nurse.

Valles thought that the lack of nurses and some of the government barriers removed in January 2023 would accelerate her application, but she has been met with wall after wall.

“It’s been six months and I am really tired of seeing the same response over and over again and not getting any kind of clarification,” Valles told CHEK News.

“What they are asking is very vague and there is no movement on anything else,” she said.

Valles says she sent all of her education qualifications to the National Nursing Assessment Service as recommended by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). She claims that the organization keeps asking for more and more documents and none of the papers she provides is “good enough” for them to proceed with an assessment.

“I am incredibly frustrated and from just the post that I remember making [on Reddit]… there are so many other nurses and doctors who’ve gone through the same thing,” said Valles.

In January the province took steps to try to make it easier for internationally trained nurses like Valles to be certified to work quicker. IENs no longer have to pay pricey assessment fees up front and the process itself was supposed to be streamlined, but Valles had already completed these steps by the time the changes were brought in.

CHEK News reached out to the Ministry of Health regarding the lack of progress for nurses like Valles but declined to comment on this specific case due to privacy. The ministry responded by commenting on the recent steps that they took to streamline the process for IENs.

The College of Nurses says it’s received more than 6,600 applications from IENs, with only 500 of them being approved this year.

For now, Valles will continue to work her way through all the red tape in hopes of becoming a Canadian nurse.


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