CARE for Internationally Trained Nurses

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A new, ‘home-grown’ approach to addressing the nursing shortage in Ontario is off to a great start. The Creating Access to Regulated Employment (CARE) for Nurses project has enrolled over 60 internationally educated nurses living in Ontario in a unique training and support program designed to help them prepare for the licensing exam and obtain employment as nurses. CARE for Nurses was established last spring by a consortium of health and community agencies with funding from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. The project addresses the all-too-familiar barriers that many highly skilled newcomers face in trying to access their profession in Canada.

CARE promises to be of great service to Ontario hospitals in their efforts to recruit nurses right here in the province. CARE provides an innovative recruiting opportunity for hospitals. Already, a number of health-care institutions are working collaboratively with CARE so that they may benefit from the diversity of skills and experience of CARE nurses.

The CARE Project specifically targets nurses who have been assessed by the College of Nurses as “exam eligible” with no gaps in their education and practice. Many are highly trained with multiple language capacities and diverse cultural and ethno-racial backgrounds that reflect the make-up of Ontarians. But they are not licensed to practice. And so Ontario must go without their skills and talents.

By expediting the path of these nurses to licensure, the CARE Project will put a group of skilled professionals to work in Ontario’s health-care system. Over the next two years, 400 nurses will participate in various activities that will enhance their prospects for entering the nursing profession in Ontario. Participants will have access to a comprehensive range of services and supports including: job shadowing and employer placements, test taking workshops, tutoring and mentoring, and opportunities for professional and peer networking and support. Participants will also be enrolled in specially designed college courses offered by George Brown and Centennial College including: English Communication for Nurses, Orientation to Nursing in Ontario, Competency Skills Assessment, Clinical Theory and Practice Review, and Exam Preparation and Support.

Though CARE was only recently launched, a number of health-care agencies have already come on board by offering financial support to candidates through scholarships/sponsorships, providing job shadowing and placement opportunities, and providing space for CARE classes to be held. For a number of CARE participants, financial assistance from hospitals has enabled them to participate in courses that they would not otherwise have been able to afford. Hospital sponsorship also provides CARE participants with rich opportunities to get a first-hand look at what it’s like to practice in Ontario. At the same time, our hospital partners gain preferred access to these nurses who will soon be in a position to take on employment as RNs or RPNs. Elaine Burr, Recruitment Coordinator at St. Michael’s Hospital (one of the partners currently working with CARE) says, this group represents, “an untapped resource right in our own backyard. CARE participants are only a few short steps from getting registered in Ontario and becoming part of the workforce. And they want to work. They’re a very keen group.” At a time when thousands of dollars are being invested in recruitment efforts, this kind of partnership can be a ‘win win’ situation for all involved.

To find out more about the CARE Project, please call 416-406-6166 or email at info@care4nurses.org

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