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B.C. to ‘streamline’ process to accredit internationally trained nurses

Click to play video: 'Provincial government making it easier for foreign nurses to work in B.C.'
Provincial government making it easier for foreign nurses to work in B.C.
The B.C. government is overhauling the process for allowing internationally-trained nurses to practice, as the province faces a critical shortage. Richard Zussman reports – Apr 19, 2022

After the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the chronic nursing shortage that has existed for years in British Columbia, the province is overhauling the process to accredit internationally trained nurses.

The province will be streamlining regulatory assessments, removing some financial barriers and adding a “navigation support” tool.

Currently, there are significant regulatory barriers for internationally educated nurses due to exam and registration assessments.

Click to play video: 'B.C. begins streamlining process to accredit international nurses'
B.C. begins streamlining process to accredit international nurses

Read more: Canada headed for nursing shortage ‘beyond anything we’ve ever experienced’: experts

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“The initiative today addresses the lengthy and costly part of this,” Health Minister Adrian Dix said.

Between 2017 and 2020, the number of registered nurses providing publicly funded health services increased by 2,259 or 6 per cent.

At the same time the population in the province grew by 200,000 people.

B.C.’s supply is growing faster than other jurisdictions in Canada, as population grows and ages.

Currently, registration and licensing of IENs can take an average of 18 months to two years – with some nurses waiting even longer.

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The expectation is the change will reduce waiting times, but it is unclear how long. The process will provide more frequent assessments so nurses will not have to wait under the current cohort system.

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This one change could save one or two months in waits.

“It will potentially allow people to work while they are seeing higher accreditation. Right now it is very difficult. That is an important change,” Dix said.

To be licensed there is a complex process including English Language testing, credential and competency assessments, document submissions to numerous organizations including National Nursing Assessment Services, Nursing Community Assessment and the BC College of Nurses and Midwives.

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The College receives 350 to 400 application annually for nursing professions.

The province will be providing $1.2 million to streamline the regulatory assessment.

This will reduce the time it takes for applicants to complete the lab assessment and reduce development costs for the assessment process.

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British Columbia is estimating the changes will allow them to double the number of applicants that can be tested per day.

There will also be more than $9 million in bursaries available to cover a majority of the costs applicants face. The funding will be available for all eligible international nurses interested in working in B.C.

This will include support for the national nursing assessment service application, English language testing and other costs.

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