Nursing applications from workers outside of Alberta are on the rise

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The number of nurses applying to work in Alberta is on the rise, according to the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA).

So far this year, CRNA has issued 4,500 permits, which it said will add over 2,300 RNs to the workforce.

Just since April, permits have been issued to almost 1,500 internationally educated nurses, which is three times the total number of permits that were issued in the last four years, CRNA said.

To compare to other provinces, the B.C. government says up to 700 international nurses are typically assessed for competency each year. The Nova Scotia College of Nursing said it registered and licenced 282 international nurses in 2022.

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The increase in the Alberta numbers can be explained in part by a change to the process of getting registered, according to Greg Loveday, an executive director at CRNA.

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Loveday said internationally-educated nurses already go through some accreditations during the immigration process.

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“What we’ve started looking at is how we can leverage some of the processes already in place, specifically for an education credential assessment, which is part of the immigration process that people have already completed, rather than making them go through it again,” he said.

In the same vein, international applicants can now use the standardized exam all nurses must take to be registered and use that as part of proving their competency, Loveday said.

Loveday said the applicants come from three sources: university graduates in the province, international nurses and nurses from elsewhere in Canada.

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“The number of university graduates is relatively stable. That’s dependent on how many seats are available at post-secondary institutes,” said Loveday.

“But the other two categories are substantially up from year on year.”

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CRNA said 633 people from other Canadian provinces or territories have received a permit to practice in Alberta.

Loveday said many people registering had already completed the immigration process and were living in Alberta and hadn’t been able to get through the nursing application process.

“The work that the CRNA is doing to get qualified registered nurses from outside the province licenced sooner means more positions can get filled across the province,” said Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange.

Loveday added that permits issued doesn’t necessarily equate to how many people start working full time in the health-care system.

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— with a file from The Canadian Press

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