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What History Can Tell Us About Working as an Immigrant Nurse in Canada

May 5, 2021

Like many internationally educated nurses (IENs) in Canada, Jeff Kua came to the country through the Live-in Caregiver Program.

It was 2010. His grandmother in Ontario had suffered a stroke, so his uncle suggested that Kua come to Toronto as her caregiver.

With his experience as an operating room nurse in the Philippines, however, Kua knew he’d eventually return to the profession he once served and trained for.

He started preparing for his nursing registration a year after he arrived. Back then, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) considered work experience as a registered nurse (RN) within the last five years as valid. This means that by the time Kua could pursue working as an RN—after completing his two-year caregiving work requirement for permanent residency, and applying for an open work permit—his clinical experience would still count.

But things had changed by the time he received his assessment from the CNO, sometime between 2013 and 2014.

“They said I had to go back to school because they changed their policy—instead of accepting nursing experience in the last five years, they [changed] it to three years,” says the 37-year-old.

“So in the time they took to assess my documents, I basically ran out of experience. So I needed to go back to school.”