CARE Centre undertook a strategic planning process over the spring/summer and now in the fall we have already begun to reap the benefits of those efforts by the board, staff and consultants Vicki Bales and Carolyn Acker. We are most grateful to all the external key informants who provided their perspective on CARE Centre’s future directions. The planning process has allowed CARE Centre to reaffirm its commitment to enhancing our continuum of services for IENs, as we increase public awareness of all the significant ways IENs contribute to nursing and healthcare in Canada. CARE Centre’s Strategic Plan 2014-2017 will be finalized for external circulation in the next couple of months.
For over twelve years CARE Centre has recognized and promoted the value of internationally educated nurses (IENs) with diverse backgrounds and experience. While we wait for the outcome of our proposal to the Ministry for renewal of funding for the next 3 years, we remain diligent in delivering quality services to IENs and continuing to advocate for their full integration into the Canadian healthcare workforce.
Over the past several months, we have been focused on monitoring the labour market trends for Ontario nurses, and closely following the immigration policy changes. We are also in constant consultation with government officials, the College of Nurses of Ontario and of course, our nursing leadership. We were thrilled to have Ontario Nursing Secretariat Chief Nursing Officer Debra Bournes as a guest during our Nursing Week celebration, as well as Registered Practical Nurses Association Executive Director Dianne Martin. This year we held the event to congratulate our newly registered member nurses at the Registered Nurses of Ontario Career Fair, thanks to Executive Director Doris Grinspun. It was a wonderful synchronicity to have our member IENs receive their certificates of completion of our CARE Centre bridge training program, and be able to walk down the hallway to meet a ballroom full of healthcare employers!
We have had a number of nursing and healthcare organizations contact us about recruiting our members, and we’re exploring more ways to give our member IENs exclusive access to employers. Carecor Health Services recently conducted interviews in our Toronto head office to fulfill a contract, and hired 16 of our registered practical nurses. It was very exciting to facilitate that hiring process…
The Ontario Government’s Nursing OrIENtation initiative announced earlier this year will provide incentives for employers to hire IENs on a supernumerary basis, similar to the New Nurse Grad Guarantee program. CARE Centre anxiously awaits the Ministry’s guidelines so that we can actively engage with employers who are interested in creating significant opportunities for our member nurses and others.
NOTICE: CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses’ Board of Directors is currently recruiting members for our Board. CARE Centre has an 11-member volunteer community board working in a policy governance model with two mandated seats for member IENs. The term of a Board Member is three years, with the possibility of renewal for 2 consecutive terms. As it enters its 13th year, CARE Centre is seeking individuals who possess specific specializations to guide the organization toward meeting new strategic goals. These skills include expertise in social enterprise and innovation; social marketing and communications; fundraising and establishing corporate partnerships and economic and social research. For details about the posting and the application process, please visit: www.care4nurses.org prior to the November 15th deadline.
CARE Centre has a new way to welcome new members into the organization, and to make sure that they have the chance to get to know one another in their cohort group. After IENs come to an information session to make sure they meet all the criteria for membership, and have an intake meeting with a case manager, the next step is for them to gather at a New Members Orientation Session which gives them more practical information about CARE Centre’s programs and services, which is followed by a professional development workshop that is open to all members.
“The professional development workshops have been very popular, since we offer both hard and soft skill set training, such as some clinical topics and others focussing on the holistic aspects of nursing,” says Ruth Wojtiuk, CARE Centre’s Professional Practice Lead. “We have staff-facilitated sessions that address the more personal side of being a nurse, such as self-care and self-promotion, since we know that by nature some nurses are always caring for others and putting others first. These are also important pieces in building our IENs’ professional identities and Canadian careers.”
Members can find listings for upcoming events on the Members Only Website. Are you a CARE Centre Member and don’t have your login? Contact Michael Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org and get connected!
Course Options for Fall: Review, Search, Observe!
CARE Centre has announced a busy slate of course and program offerings over the fall, including specialized language and communication workshops, Exam Preparation and Review, Observational Job Shadowing placements, Job Search Strategies, Competency Assessment Supplement workshop and the ever-popular and important Wound Care and CPR workshops. CARE Centre offers an Enhanced Communication Skills (ECS) workshop to prepare for the IENCAP (Competency Assessment Program)/OSCE. It is important to know what questions to ask; however, it is equally important to ask those questions in a clear and culturally appropriate manner. Members who have completed the OSCE all report the importance of good communication. Some of CARE Centre’s educational and career support options are now available to non-members, including the ECS workshop.
Volunteer to Plan a Conference for IENs, By IENs!
CARE Centre members have joined together to form three working committees to plan a Conference, for, by and with IENs. The conference will be an opportunity for IENs to share their experiences, create new mentoring relationships, meet with employers and provide important meeting content to inform the nursing industry about their concerns and contributions. The three planning committees are Programming, Marketing and Mobilization and Fundraising. We’ve had an amazing response from a number of our member IENs but we need more help – non-member IENs in your circles are welcome to take part as well. Interested IENs should contact Elva Massey (email@example.com) if you’d like more information about joining a committee Members should look in the Forums section of the Members Only Website for information and updates as the planning continues!
IEN Registration Support and Appeals
At the end of July and beginning of August, the Office of the Fairness Commissioner held two evening sessions inviting IENs to share their experiences attempting to register with the College of Nurses of Ontario, requesting input on what could make the process fairer to applicants. The OFC is an arms-length government agency founded to assess the registration practices of certain regulated professions and trades to make sure they are transparent, objective, impartial and fair for anyone applying to practice his or her profession in Ontario. The office requires the bodies that regulate the professions and trades to review their own registration processes, submit reports about them and implement the commissioner’s recommendations for improvement. The Office of the Fairness Commissioner does not have a mandate to help internationally trained and educated individuals get their professional licenses, and it does not assess credentials. You can read the OFC’s 2012 report on CNO registration here: www.fairnesscommissioner.ca/index_en.php?page=professions/college_of_nurses_of_ontario.
IENs should also visit the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board website for more information about nursing regulation: www.hparb.on.ca/scripts/english/about.asp. The Board is the adjudicative arm of the Health Boards Secretariat, a branch of the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care.
In related news, this past summer the Ontario Human Rights Commission released a new Policy on Removing the “Canadian Experience” Barrier. The new policy prohibits employers and regulatory bodies from requiring “Canadian experience” unless they can prove grounds for its relevance. Read more about the new policy and other human rights (multiple languages available) at www.ohrc.on.ca.
Ivana Freitas and Jignesh Joshi are two CARE Centre member RPNs who were featured on a poster presented at the Fall, 2013 RPNAO Conference. Ivana is now Resident Services Manager at a Chartwell Retirement Residence and Jignesh works in management and nursing at Central Clinics in Toronto. They share the On the Job spotlight and tips for newcomer IENs
What was nursing like in your home country?
(IF) The reason I wanted to become a nurse was because I like to help people. I was brought up by my grandmother so I was a caregiver to her as well. I was 15 years old when I decided to become a nurse. I went to nursing school for four years in Belgrade. It’s a different education system in Europe; after (middle) school, programs are more like college. I received a diploma as an RN, which was our highest nursing qualification at that time. I finished when I was 19. Now they have additional studies so they’re getting closer to Canadian and American standards.
How did you decide to pursue nursing in Canada?
(JJ) I came to Canada in May, 2010. I wanted to come for the stability and safety, the financial opportunities. I love snow; at least I did in the beginning! Nursing is a passion for me, I always want to be on my toes. That’s what it’s like now when I’m managing a medical clinic of five family doctors and specialists and working there as a nurse as well. I passed my RPN exam in September, 2010. It was after that I found out about CARE Centre through a friend – I wish I knew before! Their experienced professionals have so much knowledge. The clinical workshops really help. For instance we do wound care completely differently in India. We’re all nurses, but practice can be quite different.
What’s the best part of your job?
After working for Revera and as a CARE Centre case manager I came to Chartwell. The supervisory position suits me. In this country nursing is also a business. I like regulations, policies and teaching people. We’re really lacking RPNs in the long-term care sector; they have so many critical clinical skills we need. CARE Centre opened doors for me and now I can hire PSWs and RPNs – if they’re not CARE Centre members I tell them to join!
Any words of advice for IENs on their journey to registration?
(JJ) Be prepared – it’s not a short process, it’s never easy, you have to prepare for months to at least a year. Also go to CARE Centre when you get your direction from the CNO. Professional associations like RPNAO guide you and help you. They can provide financial supports for IENs. You’ll get more exposure to career opportunities, and they’ll keep you current about the field — and of course increased understanding of professional standards. Take courses so you know more about Canadian nursing and understand the system, and volunteer. I volunteered at a clinic for two months and then they hired me!
CARE Centre for IENs Hamilton office is located on James Street, a section of the city that mixes stately historic churches and buildings with the GO station and busy intersecting roadways – a reflection of CARE Centre itself.
“We’ve been serving greater Hamilton, Halton and Niagara Regions and the Kitchener-Waterloo area for eight years now, and also connected with IENs from Peel Region to London before we had case managers and office space in those areas,” says Manager Joanne Roth. “And just like the explosion in growth and immigration to those parts of southern Ontario, we’ve had a continued increase in IENs moving to our more immediate area. With our record of serving clients here, we’re now at a stage where more established IENs can mentor the newcomers.”
With a population of more than 500,000 residents, Hamilton is the third destination of choice for new immigrants to Ontario. According to Statistics Canada, more than 24% of the population is born outside of Canada. Hamilton boasts about 30,000 jobs in the healthcare sector, so opportunities for IENs seeking registration and employment are significant. “CARE Centre is a remarkable organization that contributes greatly to healthcare excellence in Ontario,” commented Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina. CARE Centre’s case management model ensures the one-on-one support newcomer nurses need to excel in re-establishing their careers.
“After a holistic assessment, a diverse, inter-professional team of experts guide IENs through the settlement process with the goals of registration, progressive employment and successful integration into their workplaces and communities,” says Case Manager Adilla Saloojee. “Case managers advocate on behalf of IENs for fair practices and opportunities. We also try to ensure that services are provided in an atmosphere sensitive to the uniqueness of our member IENs.”
“Our partnerships with Mohawk College and Hamilton Health Science Centre (HHSC) have been bedrocks for continuing and expanding our activities,” says Roth. “We’re proud to say that HHSC has adopted our Language and Communication for Nurses program to enhance orientation for staff IENs as well as ESL nurses. Everyone from our advisory committee to local CARE Centre instructors to all of our supportive area employers have been integral to our success here.”
Navdeep Kabarhwal immigrated to Hamilton from India with her husband in 2008, and at first was bewildered by the prospect of returning to nursing in Ontario. “I was so nervous about things, I was really lost, it was such a big journey,” she recalls. “When IENs come to a new place we really need professional guidance, and CARE Centre did all that for me.” Kabarhwal is now employed as an RN at St. Peter’s Hospital after gaining experience in community nursing with St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “CARE Centre provided me with information at every phase, including job search strategies. Now whenever a new IEN comes to Canada, I send them right to CARE Centre – they give us all the support we need!”
Bredin Centre for Learning Delivers with CARE Centre’s LCN Program
Bredin Centre for Learning, a non-profit organization in Alberta, recently purchased a license for CARE Centres’ Language and Communication for Nurses program including the Foundations online offering and all three levels of in-class course curricula. Bredin Centre’s programs are designed to meet the labour market requirements of their communities and include licensed certificates in the healthcare field, occupational training, international credential bridging and literacy programming. “Bredin Centre for Learning works with over 500 internationally educated nurses. Our nurses are at various stages of licensure and language skill level,” said Debbie MacDonald, Executive Director. “The main barrier faced by our clients is language and communication skills within the Canadian health care system. When we looked to develop curriculum for these clients to meet their various language needs we decided to partner with CARE Centre. We have been delighted with both the support and training provided to our staff.
This partnership will certainly benefit those clients we serve.” CARE Centre language instructor Gyongyver Angi delivered a “train the trainer” session for Bredin Centre’s staff in the summer. “The teachers said the curricula was very useful to them as it provided them with theory and role-plays, scenarios, video and audio materials they could use for practice,” noted Angi. “They loved the structure of the material, and were also impressed by the quality of our audio and video materials. They were eager to try out the e-Learning Lounge during the demonstration too.” CARE Centre can leverage its experience and investment in language and communication for nurses curriculum development by customizing the program for individual organizational needs. For more information, contact Joanne Roth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IELTS Prep for Nurses with Ea International
In light of the changes implemented by CNO in January 2013 related to how applicants are required to prove language fluency, it became evident IENs were undertaking the IELTs assessment in greater number than previously. In order to support our members in being successful in these assessments CARE Centre sought out possible partners able to design and deliver a preparation course specifically for IENs. In July 2013 CARE Centre partnered with Ea International to deliver a 25-hour pilot course over 5 weeks. IELTS instructor Eiline Delena says grouping nurses together to study for the exam is a very effective strategy in ensuring success. “When nurses practice together, they are all working to achieve an IELTS benchmark of 7 or 7.5 in listening, so you can cater to their similar goals. Getting those 7s is not easy. Students who get an 8 or 9 in CLBA (Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment) still find IELTS difficult. I’m an immigrant too so I really identify with them – what a difference it makes to achieve that IELTS score to get licensed and employed.” The course also provides a one on one feedback session with the instructor and recommendations for additional practice exercises. Future courses will be posted on the website. For more information visit www.eacom.ph.