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BC announces new supports to attract internationally trained nurses

April 20, 2022

British Columbia is looking to other countries to solve its nursing shortage “crisis,” starting with financial support to help internationally educated nurses get registered and licensed faster through a streamlined system.

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the current confusing and expensive process has been a barrier for nurses wanting to work in a province with the fastest-growing population compared with other jurisdictions across the country.

“I think it’s fair to say that for internationally educated nurses, it is a challenging road,” Dix said. “It’s costly and it’s lengthy, and that’s at a time when we need nurses, and we need people to use the skills they have.”

Along with simplifying the application and assessment process for eligible nurses, the province will provide a maximum of $16,000 each to about 1,500 nurses this year to pay for everything from application fees to English language testing and education upgrading.

Bursaries will also help pay travel costs for those living in rural and remote areas so they can go to the Vancouver area for assessments.

A “nurse navigator” will help them go through the immigration, assessment, licensing and employment processes, while the province launches a domestic and international marketing campaign next month to attract more nurses.

Those trained outside Canada will now be required to take only one assessment instead of three for jobs as health-care assistants, licensed practical nurses or registered nurses, significantly slashing costs and time, Dix said.

The so-called triple-track process will enable people to work as licensed practical nurses while furthering their training as registered nurses, for example, he said.

However, Dix said a national competency assessment program is still likely to take about a year and the province will work to try and make that a better system.

Jennie Arceno, a registered nurse who trained in the Philippines and worked there for five years before moving to BC in 2016, said the registration process took three years to complete.

“No employer was willing to hire me as I didn’t have the Canadian experience,” she said, adding she applied to every health authority in the province before getting a job at a hospital in Campbell River.

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