Category Archive Volume 2. January 2013

Lourdes VicenteByLourdes Vicente

Making Connections

Welcome to CARE Centre’s IEN Connector – volume #2! We hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that you are all refreshed for 2013!

Thanks very much for the compliments we received after we launched the first issue of CARE Centre’s IEN Connector; please keep in touch with story ideas or comments. As a quarterly publication, there’s a lot to cover in three months of CARE Centre’s activities, and the fall of 2012 was even busier than usual as we took several measures to reach out to IENs in our membership, those newly arrived in Ontario, and those still in their home countries planning to immigrate to Canada. The College of Nurses of Ontario’s (CNO) regulatory changes take effect January 1, 2013, so it’s now more important than ever for IENs to find the support they need to achieve their registration and to remain in good standing with the College. As detailed on the CNO website, among the more substantial changes introduced by the revised regulations are:

  • a new jurisprudence exam for all applicants;
  • evidence of recent practice within the last 3 years;
  • demonstrating language proficiency through results from approved proficiency tests only; and
  • a 2-year timeframe to meet registration requirements.

To reach IENs in their home countries, CARE Centre has partnered with the federally funded Canadian Immigrant Integration Program (CIIP) which provides pre-departure orientation to individuals applying to come to Canada through the Federal Skilled Worker and Provincial Nominee Programs. CARE Centre has delivered webinars to both CIIP employees and IEN applicants through offices in China, India, the Philippines and the United Kingdom. Over the last couple of months, another exciting collaboration has been for CARE Centre to be featured as a community based support for employers and IENs as part of the Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) and Nursing Health Services Research Unit (NHSRU)’s IEN Integration initiative. Like CARE Centre, this initiative is also funded by the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI) and the Government of Canada; collectively we have been advocating to employers about how integral IENs are to providing care to Ontario’s diverse communities. In addition to meeting workforce requirements as significant numbers of senior nurses retire, IENs are also reflective of the diverse patient demographics in most parts of Ontario; they add to the healthcare team’s ability to provide quality and culturally congruent care. IENs with established careers in their home or other countries have so much to offer Ontario healthcare – as voiced by Health and Long-term Care Minister Deb Matthews in her congratulatory message to the 2012 CARE Centre Joan Lesmond IEN of the Year Award winner, Ismail El-Assaad, a critical care registered nurse working at University Hospital in London. I think we can all agree with her strong backing for IENs- see the video greeting here

Lourdes VicenteByLourdes Vicente


London Health Sciences Centre played (LHSC) host to an award reception to celebrate member Ismail El-Assaad as the 2012 CARE Centre Joan Lesmond IEN of the Year. Ismail is a Palestinian nurse who studied and worked as a senior nurse and nurse educator in Lebanon and Dubai, and now works in the Intensive Care Unit at LHSC University Hospital. “Coming to Canada was always a dream for me; I was devoted to exploring and experiencing the uniqueness of the nursing profession in Canada, and for a person like me who always likes to be up to date with advanced practices and technology involved in nursing, Canada seemed like the land of opportunity,” stated Ismail in his winning essay.

Zubeida Ramji, Loy Asheri, Ismail El Assaad, and Flor Dandal

Zubeida Ramji, Loy Asheri, Ismail El Assaad, and Flor Dandal

Ismail was nominated by his nursing supervisor Mary Kroh, Coordinator of Cardiac Surgery, University Hospital Intensive Care Unit. Kroh commented, “Since Ismail started in the ICU I have received several letters commending Ismail on his exceptional care, compassion and professionalism; one was about the care given to a dying family member. The empathy and support was appreciated and of great comfort to the family in a time of sadness. Another was from a post-operative cardiac surgery patient that describes the care received from Ismail as exceptional, declaring ‘I was cared for as a person, not just a patient.’”

Mary Kroh, Ismail El Assaad, and Bonnie Adamson. Photo by Kelly Almond

Mary Kroh, Ismail El Assaad, and Bonnie Adamson. Photo by Kelly Almond

“None of this could have happened without CARE Centre,” El-Assaad said, “They put me on the right track. Their specialized courses really helped.” Ismail, who is planning to return to school to do a master’s degree, faced tough competition and was selected from an outstanding field of member nurses who are exemplary professionals and compassionate caregivers. LHSC CEO and President Bonnie Adamson, who is herself a former nurse, spoke at the event, and Ismail received his award from last year’s winner, Loy Asheri. Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews provided a video greeting. Also on hand for the celebration were CARE Centre Executive Director Zubeida Ramji and board member Flor Dandel, Executive Director of Kababayan Community Centre. The call for nominations for the 2013 award will go out in June.

IEN Day in Toronto

In 2011, November 17th was marked as Internationally Educated Nurses Day in Toronto by Mayor Rob Ford to commemorate CARE Centre’s 10th anniversary. The proclamation was re-issued this year, which found many CARE Centre members hard at work on a Saturday in Exam Preparation and Review and Language and Communication for Nurses classes – the least we could do was get them a cake! Members were back in the classroom to complete a weekend mock exam getting ready to sit their CRNE and CPNRE. More information on CARE Centre’s Exam Preparation and Review course is on the website.

Four OHA-NHSRU Presentations in Ontario

Windsor OHA Presentation

Windsor OHA Presentation

Executive Director Zubeida Ramji joined a four-stop tour of the Ontario Hospital Association & Nursing Health Services Research Unit’s initiative The Path to Integration – Workshops for Employers of Internationally Educated Nurses. The presentations were held in Toronto, Niagara on the Lake, Ottawa and Windsor offering current research, discussing IEN employment trends, community supports for IENs and employers, as well as lessons learned by employers such as Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Michael’s Hospital. The project is funded by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, with an Employer’s Guide developed by Dr. Andrea Baumann and Dr. Jennifer Blythe. For more information about the IEN Project, visit

Welcome to the Members Only Website

If you missed the e-blast inviting members to sign up with their access to their exclusive Members Only Website, please contact Marketing and Communications Coordinator Tina Novotny at All CARE Centre members can access job postings, the CARE Centre calendar of courses, workshops and events, and employer profiles, plus share with their fellow IENs through various forums on a variety of topics. Member Sophia Morgan commented, “I welcome this move that CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses has made. With most organizations streamlining connections with interested parties through the internet, I see this new development a huge success in CARE reaching more IENs who need support and guidance in regaining their nursing designation in Canada. Thanks and I anticipate a fun and informative interaction through this medium.” Many thanks to Alumni Coordinator Akiko Kobayashi for all her hard work in the last year in organizing and outreach to members!

Iris Kennedy

Iris Kennedy

Diversity Works in Kingston

Kingston Case Manager Iris Kennedy and Regional Manager John Mavrogiannakis staffed the CARE Centre table at the late-November Diversity Works Symposium for local job seekers and business professionals. The Diversity Works Symposium brings together new immigrants, local businesses and community organizations to share knowledge, build contacts and promote the importance of Internationally Educated Professionals in the local economy. The Kingston Immigration Partnership (KIP) also published the 2012 GLOBAL TALENT/LOCAL BUSINESS magazine which CARE Centre member Monica Shin is featured in the issue talking about her journey to registration and employment at Kingston General Hospital. For a range of resources and information, including the 2012 Report Card for KIP visit

Windsor Essex’s Local Immigration Partnership

CARE Centre Windsor was a bronze sponsor at Job Day, an annual event with more than 600 attendees and 80 employer exhibitors. Participants exhibit to recruit candidates and to promote their various programs and services at a single, large and unique recruitment event. CARE Centre Case Manager Domine Rutayisire also attended the first Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership Community Forum. The vision of the Local Immigration Partnership is to offer a venue for the development of a more integrated and coordinated approach to service delivery. This approach requires assistance from the community to promote the social and economic contributions immigrants make to the region, as well as identifying and addressing the systematic barriers that many newcomers experience when integrating into the Canadian culture.

Halima Khatun and Michael Frank

Halima Khatun and Michael Frank

Janet Kwansah

Janet Kwansah

Toronto has a new front office and new faces

Many Toronto-area members have already met Michael Frank, CARE Centre’s new Client Services/Reception Coordinator, seen here with Halima Khatun who is still part of CARE Centre as she completes her ESL teaching program. Michael put a fresh face on CARE Centre’s front office, with the reference library finding new premises in the Member Common Room. CARE Centre welcomed Janet Kwansah as a new Case Manager recently. Not only does Janet bring her extensive experience as an RN in Ghana, where she also completed an MBA in Health Services Administration, working for many years within the Ministry of Health, she has the unique insight of a CARE Centre member! Janet joined CARE Centre in 2011, and achieved registration in June of this past year. Janet says both Language and Communication for Nurses and the Exam Preparation and Review courses were highlights of her CARE Centre action plan. “Exam Prep gives you a platform to organize your knowledge base and your studies, and LCN gave me skills I could transfer to my Health Assessment course, to know how to ask questions and give feedback and interact with both patients and staff – it gives real insight into Canadian culture.”

Special Info Session for Persian Community; Multi-lingual videos now on YouTube

Farsi Info Session

Farsi Info Session

Ahmad Baki is one of CARE Centre’s most active alumni members, and was the driving force behind a special information session for members of the Persian community, including IENs from his home country of Iran, which consistently ranks as CARE Centre’s fourth-largest client group. “I got very positive feedback from the international nurses who attended,” said Ahmad Baki, “CARE Centre places a strong emphasis on up-grading nurses’ information regarding holistic patient care. Having gained considerable professional insight through my clinical placements, I have been able to see first-hand that this leads to better outcomes. CARE Centre also helps clients update résumés, academic transcripts and clinical placement reports, which is why I was eager to introduce my colleagues to CARE Centre’s range of services.” Ahmad was involved in a video project at the time of the 10th anniversary he started the idea for the Multi-lingual Video Project by providing a message to Farsi-speaking IENs. CARE Centre went on to record a total of 16 members speaking in their native languages, and now the videos are available online to reach IENs before they come to Ontario to prepare to meet the regulatory changes at the College of Nurses. Coming to the CARE Centre website, and available for viewing at youtube.

Employment Strategies Piloted in Hamilton

CARE Centre Hamilton recently piloted a new CARE Centre workshop series called Employment Strategies for Nurses, delivered by Case Manager Adilla Saloojee. The program was initially developed by Michelle Gordon and further developed by the Employment Strategies Team comprised of CARE personnel from both the East and West regions. It was earlier piloted in Toronto by case managers Michelle Gordon and Lourdes Vicente. “Employment Strategies for Nurses is a critical support for our members who have or will soon be achieving their registration with CNO and are eager to enter the labour market as efficiently as possible,” said Saloojee. “Because this program has been tailored to the Canadian nursing context, it is much more beneficial to our members than a general job search workshop. “Facilitators engage participants in eight modules which are outcome-based and initially help them construct a personal profile and application documents which highlight their relevant knowledge-base, transferable skills and achievements. Eventually, participants are equipped with the knowledge to navigate local recruitment processes and self-market their unique nursing backgrounds with confidence. IENs who participate in these workshops not only succeed in securing nursing employment, they also increase their capacity to maintain and progress in their careers as Nurses in Ontario. Check the CARE Centre and Members Only websites for information on upcoming workshops.

Lourdes VicenteByLourdes Vicente

On the Job – Adela Belisario, RPN

Adela Belisario was a valedictorian at her CARE Centre graduation celebration in 2011, has been an active CARE Centre alumni member, and now works at the Dorothy Ley Hospice in Etobicoke, a ten-bed facility that also provides hospice home care to more than 200 patients in the community, day programs, and bereavement support for families and friends. To find out more visit

What was your biggest inspiration to become a nurse?

When I was a child I always admired nurses and doctors. I thought, ‘When I grow up I can be one of them, I will help people to heal by taking care of them and teaching them how to have a healthy life’. My aunt was a community nurse, she never was at home, when I visited, she was always giving vaccinations to the community, or visiting different groups of people to provide educational seminars. I admired her dedication.

What was nursing like in your home country?

In Peru I used to be the Circulating Nurse, a role that I developed in the Operating Room, checking the equipment for proper functioning, preparing the instruments and equipment needed in the operation, preparing patients prior to operations and anticipating the anesthesiologist’s needs.

I also collaborated in activities to raise funding for the hospital. Sometimes, I worked pro bono when there were people unable to pay for health care services. This was particularly hard as my compensation as a nurse was barely enough to make a living. But I felt that being a nurse was not only a job but also a commitment to help people. I still feel the same way.

Why did you want to pursue nursing in Canada?

I chose Toronto as my new home because I wanted to live in a city with promising potential in health care, work, and education, not to mention a good place to raise a family. Here, I could offer compassionate care to individuals who are living with the challenges of a life-limiting illness or loss, and help them live in comfort with their pain managed, and to see them to the end of their lives with dignity, meaning and hope.

What was your biggest obstacle?

I started looking for a nursing job right away. Before long, I found that it was not going to be that easy to work as a nurse again. My English needed improvement; the nursing license application seemed so complicated; on top of that, I had to make a living in a city where I did not have any relatives or friends to help me out. Soon after landing in Toronto, I knew that my commitment to become a nurse was about to be tested.

What has been your proudest nursing moment?

My proudest moment was when I received my nursing licence from CNO and also I was happy when I was nominated for the Joan Lesmond IEN of The Year Award. I would never forget those special moments on my life.

Words of advice for IENs on their journey to registration?

I believe we all, as immigrants, share the same spirit of courage, passion and commitment. It is a challenge to become a nurse in Canada but not impossible. The golden rule is persevering to reach our goals.

Lourdes VicenteByLourdes Vicente

In Your Community – CARE Centre at the Heart of Peel Region

Peel Region is young, successful and growing fast, as CARE Centre celebrates a year and a half of providing services to IENs in the region. New Canadians make up 50 percent of Peel’s population, with a median age of 35.6 and an average household income of close to $73,000. Peel is home to more than 93 distinct ethnic groups and 60 different languages. Recent immigrants make up over 10 percent of the population, and many of them come to Community Door, a resource centre at 7700 Hurontario Street where CARE Centre shares office space with the Centre for Education and Training.

CARE Centre Case Manager Norma Tomlin has seen a surge in new members seeking support on their journey to obtain nursing registration in Ontario.. “There’s no question that this area is booming, and the calibre of clients we have coming to information sessions and becoming members shows these IENs are highly qualified and eager to resume their careers in Ontario. As well as the education they bring from their home countries they’re very focused on professional development; we’re seeing increased discussion about preparing for the new Jurisprudence Exam in the CNO registration process, and we can ensure our clients are gaining Canadian perspective in professional issues and standards of practice through courses like Nursing in Ontario.”

CARE Centre member Harminder Kaur (in photo) just became licensed as an RN, and is interviewing with several area employers. “CARE Centre helped me to understand how the Canadian health care system works and Norma always provided me with the right direction to get my license – I really have to thank her and CARE Centre!”

“Good things are coming to our members, and we can only see expanding opportunities for them in Brampton, Mississauga and other communities,” says Tomlin. Agrees CARE Centre member Chander Prabha Randhawa, “I recently I got a RN position at Brampton Civic Hospital and I am very excited about that. I passed the RPN exam in April 2011 and the RN exam in February of 2012, all with the help of CARE Centre.” Randhawa participated in CARE Centre’s Multi-lingual Video Project, recording a message in Hindi to help spread the word about CARE Centre through YouTube and the website. “It’s my way of saying thanks!” Click on the video visual, or watch it on CARE Centre’s channel.

Lourdes VicenteByLourdes Vicente

Partners and Programs

Partner Focus: CoursePark Online Nursing Courses Meet CE Requirements

CoursePark is an online learning company with a range of over 140 individual nursing courses for CARE Centre members and outside subscribers to advance in the profession. CARE Centre members receive a specially discounted enrollment fee. The relationship with parent company BlueDrop Performance Learning came through CARE Centre’s connection to the Conference Board of Canada, which profiled CARE Centre in 2012 (you can read the document here: Lori Connors, BlueDrop’s Director of Managed Communities, agrees the learning partnership is a great benefit to members: “CARE Centre is a natural partner for CoursePark’s online nursing curriculum as we are able to provide a platform that offers great courseware presented in a simple user experience with access available 24-7. We are pleased that our CoursePark service is being leveraged to offer training and provide additional value to CARE Centre members, allowing them to continue to practice and excel in their chosen profession.”

All courses are recognized by the Canadian Nurses Association (as well as l’OIIQ in Quebec and the American Nurses Credentialing Center) for elective and mandatory Continuing Education requirements. Once you’ve signed up you can take as many courses as you wish at no additional cost. The usual hours for completion are listed, but you can complete the courses at your own pace. CoursePark delivers powerful yet remarkably intuitive and accessible professional development opportunities. Participants will receive a certificate for each course completed. Nursing courses cover topics including clinical and administrative functions — an excellent way to build your knowledge – and your résumé! Read more about CoursePark.

Program Focus: New Online Language Course Helps CARE Centre Pre-members

Internationally educated nurses who want to study language and communication in the Canadian nursing context now have a new online course to meet their needs. Language and Communication for Nurses Foundations was created by CARE Centre as an extension of the organization’s bridging philosophy to help IENs along their journey to registration in Canada. Many IENs arriving in Canada are assessed at a Canadian Language Benchmark of Level 5 or 6, which means they need more English-language education and practice to achieve a Level 7, the pre-requisite for membership in CARE Centre. “A Level 7 allows IENs to accelerate their customized action plan to complete the course-work they need to be ready to sit the College of Nurses of Ontario exam,” said CARE Centre’s Regional Manager Joanne Roth, who oversees the Language Program. “With the new regulatory changes at the CNO, including a three-year safe practice window and two-year registration completion deadline, IENs need to get up to speed at a CLB Level 7 as quickly as possible.” The course is built around four foundations: language, grammar, communication and culture. The digital instruction is augmented with feedback from CARE Centre LCN teachers and is an excellent first step toward accessing all of CARE Centre’s services and support in gaining RN or RPN registration. LCN Foundations requires a minimum of 35 hours of independent study to be completed in six months and costs $175 (Cdn.)