Supporting International Nurses in BC’s Health System


To meet the growing demand for nurses in British Columbia, the province is making it easier for eligible internationally educated nurses to access the province’s health care system so they can respond to health care needs more quickly. of British Columbians.

In collaboration with the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM), the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) and Health Match BC (HMBC), the province supports IENs who wish to work in British Columbia by:

  • consolidate provincial assessment processes for IEN candidates;
  • provide about $9 million in scholarships to help pay for assessment fees, which is expected to benefit about 1,500 IENs in the first year; and
  • create new nurse navigator positions to help IENs navigate the assessment and licensing process.

HMBC is also launching an updated marketing campaign and targeted website to promote British Columbia as a destination of choice for IENs.

“Our government is committed to meeting the province’s demand for nurses. That’s why we’re launching this comprehensive suite of supports for internationally educated nurses to help them put their skills into practice here in British Columbia,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “We are very pleased to support BCCNM in developing the three-pronged assessment process and to work with HMBC to provide financial and logistical support to internationally educated nurses. Removing some financial barriers and simplifying the assessment process will make it easier to access employment in the province and ensure British Columbians have access to the health care they deserve with even more benefits. nurses and health care assistants.

Currently, registering as a health care assistant or nurse in British Columbia as an internationally educated nurse is a complicated, expensive, and time-consuming process. This requires multiple assessments and submissions of documents to many organizations. Internationally-educated nurses who wish to be assessed through multiple tracks must go through separate assessment processes for different designations, costing applicants more money and time.

“Nurses embody the values ​​of public service and resilience, a fact demonstrated during the twin public health emergencies – the COVID-19 pandemic and the toxic drug crisis,” said Mable Elmore, Parliamentary Secretary for Services seniors and long-term care. . “Internationally educated nurses entering the BC health workforce are committed to their skills and vocation, and this inspires our government to do all it can for them. support, as well as the patients they care for. And we know that our partners share the same goal.

Through HMBC, the province will support IENs with bursaries to offset the costs of assessment services, language testing, skills assessment and academic upgrading. Scholarships available for IENs range from $1,500 to $16,000, depending on the assessment or upgrade required. Additionally, new HMBC nurse navigators will help IENs navigate the various tests and assessments required to practice in British Columbia, providing immigration and licensing support, relocation information and job placement and support.

Province is providing more than $12 million to strengthen assessment processes, provide bursaries to internationally educated nurses, launch new marketing campaign and provide nurse navigator supports to new IENs and those who are currently in the process of evaluation.

This announcement builds on the province’s commitment to train and hire more health care workers, including nurses. NCAS will launch its first three-way pilot in early May 2022, with BCCNM redesigning its applications to allow a single application and NCAS reference for multiple designations. The BCCNM plans to implement a pilot IEN pathway to further streamline processes in the fall of 2022.

IENs, who are in British Columbia and wish to learn more about scholarships, are encouraged to express their interest to HMBC online:

The new marketing campaign and website will launch in May 2022.


Cynthia Johansen, Registrar and CEO, BC College of Nurses and Midwives –

“The pandemic has demanded many of the nurses we regulate, who have been called upon to provide care under extraordinary circumstances. He also highlighted the need for more nurses in our health care system. We are delighted to partner with the Department of Health and NCAS to remove barriers where possible and integrate internationally educated nurses into the system in a safe and effective manner.

Rita Parikh, Executive Director, Community Nursing Assessment Service –

“We are excited about this game changer for internationally educated nurses. The triple track means the NCAS can assess an IEN for skills in three nursing professions at once, increasing their chances of quickly joining the workforce in the role they are best suited to at the moment. We are grateful for the Department of Health’s longstanding support of our efforts to streamline the IEN assessment process.

Aman Grewal, President, BC Nurses’ Union –

“After years of calling for improvements to help expedite the inclusion of internationally educated nurses, the BC Nurses’ Union welcomes this promising step. We believe these trained professionals bring valuable experience, skills and knowledge to a health care system that desperately needs nurses. The BCNU is optimistic that investments like this will be followed by additional changes designed to expedite the opening of doors for those who are so eager to provide patient care in our province.

Michael McMillan, President and CEO, Health Employers Association of BC –

“This investment is an exciting step in providing more support for IENs who wish to work in British Columbia. Health Match BC is delighted to partner with the ministry, BCCNM and NCAS in supporting this initiative. The work will include a new marketing campaign to promote British Columbia and a new provincial website to provide information on available supports. Health Match BC will also provide recruitment navigation support and administer bursaries to help IENs overcome barriers and encourage them to build their future in BC.

Jennie Arceno, Registered Nurse and IEN –

“Finally we are moving forward, and I imagined and hoped for this to happen for my IEN colleagues. This will surely motivate and help those who are in the process of getting their registration. During my time, it was very tedious and I was about to lose hope, but I kept staring at the words ‘RN’ and I know I will get it again. The struggles I went through fueled my passion for standing up for my fellow IDEs, and knowing that this is happening slowly is just surreal.

Fast facts:

  • Approximately 700 internationally educated nurses and returning-to-practice health care workers are referred to the Community Nursing Assessment Service for assessment each year, the majority of whom are internationally educated nurses.
  • Between 2017 and 2021, 48% of health care assistants, 49% of licensed practical nurses, 77% of registered nurses and 48% of registered psychiatric nurse applicants to the NCAS completed the Community Nursing Assessment Service process.
  • It takes approximately two to six years for internationally educated nurses to become a registered nurse in British Columbia. The assessment process ranges from five months for health care aides to approximately 10.5 months for registered nurses.
  • The government is investing $96 million over three years to support the training of human resources in the health sector. This includes funding to increase the number of nursing education spaces at post-secondary institutions across the province this fiscal year. This will also include nursing retraining programs that help prepare internationally educated nurses for nursing careers in British Columbia.


About Author

Comments are closed.