McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Guide supports internationally-trained nurses transition to Canada

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: November 7, 2011
Andrea Baumann
Andrea Baumann, scientific director, NHSRU, Associate Vice-President, Global Health

Almost 300 foreign-trained nurses arrive in Canada each year, most settling in Ontario and many lacking the language, technological and nursing skills required to practice here.

To counteract what is called a "brain waste", researchers in McMaster University’s Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU) developed a unique web-based guide designed to help hospitals and health care facilities overcome barriers faced by internationally educated nurses (IENs) from the time they enter Canada.

The NHSRU’s guide, Internationally Educated Nurses: An Employer’s Guide, is timely as the Ontario government continues to further open the doors of the province to increasing numbers of international professionals.

"With an aging (nursing) workforce and the threat of nursing shortages, effective management and retention of internationally educated nurses (IENs) is a priority," said Andrea Baumann, scientific director, NHSRU, who led the development of the web-based guide with Jennifer Blythe, a senior researcher in the unit.

Baumann said the result of an initiative like this is "not only effective use of human resources but a more ethnically diverse health care workforce that better reflects the Ontario population and enhances the quality of health care delivery."

The guide, which is also available in a print version, provides easily accessible information that targets, among other things, workforce diversity, cultural competence, recruitment strategies, screening processes and hiring practices, bridging programs, settlement support and managers and educators responsibilities.

Web-based resources are listed, with additional resources on migration, settlement, recruitment and integration, personal stories of internationally-trained nurses and video clips of interviews with a number of healthcare organizations.

Maria Rosalie Rival, who received her basic nursing education in the Philippines, discusses how she is completing a degree in nursing under special funding for internationally educated nurses at York University. After arriving in Toronto in 2007, she discovered her credentials in the Philippines were not equivalent to the baccalaureate degree in Ontario.

To illustrate how some health care organizations welcome nurses from abroad, the guide describes an initiative by the Saskatchewan Health Region (SHR), selected as one of the Best Employers of New Canadians in 2010. The SHR team developed guidelines for ethical recruitment and worked with three recruitment agencies and the Philippine government, hiring 100 internationally-trained nurses and staggering their arrival to provide enhanced settlement support.

The website will be launched on Nov. 7 at HealthAchieve 2011 in Toronto, a health care conference anticipating attendance of 9,000 health care and business leaders from around the world.

The NHSRU developed the guide in collaboration with the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

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