Minister of Health and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs
The Province is making it easier for internationally educated nurses to work in B.C.’s health-care system with new financial supports and a faster, more efficient assessment pathway.
Internationally educated nurses (IENs) will no longer be required to pay application and assessment fees upfront, which cost more than $3,700. These fees will be covered directly by the Province in order to remove financial barriers for internationally educated workers who want to work in B.C.
“Supporting nurses is key to our work to making health care accessible to all British Columbians. Still, the demand for nurses is outpacing the supply,” said Premier David Eby. “There are talented and skilled nurses with the right experience who want to practise in B.C. and support high-quality care, but they are kept on the sidelines by an expensive and complicated registration process. Whether a nurse was trained in or out of the province, we are ready to welcome those who are ready to care for British Columbians.”
The Province is also providing new financial support to nurses returning to practice after a period of absence. Nurses looking to return to practice will no longer be required to pay a $300 application fee, and more than $4,000 in financial support will be available to cover assessment and eligible travel costs for nurses taking assessments in order to re-enter the workforce.
Nurses returning to practice will also be eligible to access as much as $10,000 in bursaries for any additional education required for returning to practice.
“By removing the barriers for more nurses to join our health-care workforce, we are ensuring that people throughout the province have greater access to the health services they need, when they need them,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our government will continue to take action to recruit and train more health-care workers to meet the health-care needs of British Columbians. In creating more accessible careers for nurses in B.C., we are delivering on our commitment to build a sustainable health system for many years to come.”
In April 2022, government announced $12 million to provide bursaries for IENs, launch a new marketing campaign, provide navigational supports to new and incoming IENs through HealthMatch BC, and launch a consolidated assessment approach. This has enabled some IENs to join the health-care system more quickly in the role that most closely matches their education and experience. Since then, 5,500 people have expressed interest in working in B.C., with 2,000 people actively working through the various stages of the registration and assessment process. More than 90% of nursing applications received in 2022 by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) came following these changes.
“The Province is committed to making it easier and less costly for internationally educated nurses and return-to-practice nurses to become licensed to practise in British Columbia and join the health workforce,” said Harwinder Sandhu, Parliamentary Secretary for Senior’s Services and Long-Term Care. “As a nurse educated outside of Canada, I have first-hand knowledge that it could take years for an IEN to be granted registration. I am glad to see the progress made by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives, and the Nursing Community Assessment Service to streamline the process for credential and competency assessments for IENs. The contribution of IENs to our health care is far reaching. They bring a wealth of experience, knowledge and dedication to their work. I am proud of our government’s commitment to welcoming more people to join the nursing profession so that our public health system can be well-supported in the long run.”
In September 2022, the Province also committed up to $1.3 million to set up a new pathway to make it more efficient for IENs to obtain licensure in B.C. The funding will support BCCNM and the Nursing Community Assessment Service in creating a new streamlined approach to assessment and registration, so that more IEN applications can be assessed by BCCNM each year. This is expected to reduce the waiting period for nurses looking to work in B.C., from three years to approximately four months to nine months.
This announcement is part of B.C.’s broader Health Human Resources Strategy, which was announced on Sept. 29, 2022. The strategy supports patients by ensuring they get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. It focuses on 70 key actions to retain, recruit and train health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.
Two backgrounders follow.
Susie Chant, MLA for North Vancouver-Seymour –
“Nurses dedicate their lives to caring for patients and educating the public about health care. We need more nurses in our province, now more than ever. As a registered nurse, I’m overjoyed that the government is taking further steps to recruit the nurses who were trained overseas and the nurses in this province that want to continue to practise nursing in B.C. Today’s announcement of more supports for them is such a wonderful news.”
Cynthia Johansen, registrar and CEO, BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) –
“Internationally educated nurses face many challenges as they navigate finding employment in B.C.’s health-care system, including a lengthy and costly process to register as a nurse. With support from the B.C. government, the new pathway pilot will remove barriers to registration, enabling an IEN to enter B.C.’s health-care workforce more quickly without compromising public safety.”
Rita Parikh, executive director, Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) –
“NCAS is excited to play a role in improving the registration process for IENs. Using innovative, evidence-based practices, NCAS will assess an IEN’s education, language proficiency and nursing competence all before an applicant goes to the BC College of Nurses and Midwives. Our new process will help paint a clear picture of an applicant’s readiness to practise in Canada and support regulators in making more efficient registration decisions.”
Aman Grewal, president, BC Nurses’ Union –
“The BC Nurses’ Union is pleased to see government building on its efforts to help streamline the process for internationally educated and trained nurses to find work here in B.C., first announced in the spring of last year. We know that these nurses bring valuable experience, skills and knowledge to a health-care system that is in desperate need. We are optimistic these investments to remove barriers for not only IENs, but also those interested in returning to practice will encourage qualified nurses to stay in the profession they love and help to provide care to patients across the province.”
Jennie Arceno, registered nurse and IEN –
“My journey to becoming a registered nurse in B.C. after practising for five years in the Philippines was long, exhausting and expensive. I was inspired to advocate for changes to the system so other IENs wouldn’t have to face the same challenges. The start of this new pathway will surely help more IENs and goes to show how the government is committed to addressing the long waits to get registered.”
Monique Wee, registered nurse and IEN –
“I had to jump through a lot of hoops to get my nursing licence in B.C. and get a nursing job. The changes announced today will make the whole process so much easier and more affordable, which will inspire more IENs to practise in B.C. The knowledge and experience that IENs have will prove to be an extremely valuable asset to B.C. nursing workforce. I am glad the B.C. government values us.”
Information about other bursaries and supports is available at: www.nursingjobsbc.ca
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