Welcome to our first edition of CARE Centre’s IEN Connector. We’re excited to launch this e-publication to keep you informed about the ongoing successes of internationally educated nurses, and to update you on the initiatives that allow CARE Centre to reach its own benchmarks of achievement. We hope you’ll share CARE Centre’s IEN Connector with your own networks, and look forward to hearing your comments and story ideas.
It’s been a busy time in the nursing world, and for CARE Centre itself. Over the summer months we had our AGM, celebrating the publication of our first “interactive” annual report, opened our sixth office in Kingston, exhibited at nursing and immigrant expos, presented at conferences and participated in a major Ontario government consultation related to immigration. We also forged new partnerships with e-learning providers, developed a number of digital media tools to better communicate with our members and stakeholders, and went online with new case management software to provide important tracking on IEN education and integration. We were very pleased to be the subject of a Conference Board of Canada profile, and we were even recognized with two awards!
All of these developments helped us to build and extend our CARE Centre community, across our six offices from Windsor to Kingston, and work with other organizations who support and advocate for IENs in Ontario and Canada.
What’s really important now is the need to keep IENs current on relevant information, ideally before they even arrive in Canada. The College of Nurses of Ontario has introduced regulatory changes that will significantly impact IENs. At CARE Centre we have been analyzing the implications for IENs and have posted FAQs on our website www.care4nurses.org to help answer questions regarding nursing in Ontario. While these changes are taking place in the province, there are also big shifts on Canada’s immigration policy front, including modifications to the Federal Skilled Workers Program. We are still trying to understand the implications for IENs who are aspiring to immigrate to Canada.
The role of bridge training programs is more vital than ever to assist IENs in obtaining registration and employment, ensuring a highly capable, professional nursing workforce that mirrors the diversity of Ontario’s population, today and tomorrow.
The finalists in the CARE Centre Joan Lesmond IEN of the Year Award have been selected, an outstanding representation of our member nurses and their remarkable dedication to their profession and their practice. The finalists have been asked to write an essay about their journey to certification as a Canadian nurse for the final jury process, with the winner announced November 17th, the second anniversary of the award. Last year November 17th was marked as Internationally Educated Nurses Day in Toronto by Mayor Rob Ford to commemorate CARE Centre’s 10th anniversary. To read a Q&A with last year’s inaugural winner, Loy Asheri, see Connector’s “On the Job” feature.
In mid-July the College of Nurses of Ontario announced “sweeping changes to the rules governing who can become a nurse in Ontario, as well as to the conditions that all existing members must meet if they wish to remain members in good standing (that) will affect every College member and applicant wishing to practice nursing in the province.” (CNO press release, July, 2012) These changes will particularly affect internationally educated nurses pursuing registration in Canada, especially anyone who will not have completed the registration process by December 31st, 2012. IENs should examine the new regulations in detail on the CNO website at www.cno.org. CARE Centre will keep members posted, and asks that you share updates with other non-member IENs as you receive them.
CARE Centre has been delivering customized Language and Communication courses for nurses at three comprehensive levels, addressing different nursing functions in each unit. Previously, the pre-requisite for Level 1 was a Canadian Language Benchmark Assessment of 6, but as of October 1st, IENs must now achieve a CBLA 7 before accessing CARE Centre membership and programs. CARE Centre has created a new online course that will aid pre-members in improving their language skills while learning Canadian nursing communication practices. Developed by language specialists in consultation with expert nurses, LCN Foundations will benefit IENs on their path to achieving CLBA 7 and nursing certification.
CARE Centre is a member of OCASI, the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. OCASI recently released a major study called Making Ontario Home, a survey of over 2,500 newcomers to Ontario. It’s the first province-wide study to focus on immigrant and refugee use of settlement and integration services. It is also one of the largest surveys of this nature ever undertaken in Canada, and is the most comprehensive description to date of those who use settlement and integration services in Ontario. Its purpose is to develop a deeper understanding of which immigrants and refugee needs are being met and how; which groups are well served and why; and how the settlement needs of immigrants and refugees across the province may best be served. You can download the full report or summary at www.ocasi.org/MOH.
Recently, several job-seeking nurses in the Philippines were contacted by email from someone claiming to be from a small Ontario hospital. They were told the hospital was seeking immigrant nurses to fill an urgent shortage, and that they should send a recruiting fee of over 3,000 pesos or roughly $95 to the local representative and meet later at a specific location for more information. The trouble was, the Ontario hospital was not hiring. Radio Canada International journalist Marc Montgomery interviewed Executive Director Zubeida Ramji and others to shine a spotlight on this and other cases of immigration fraud. Listen to the whole story at: www.rcinet.ca/english/daily/reports-2012/13-46_2012-08-15-scammers-use-canada-to-defraud-foreign-nurses.
CARE Centre was pleased to be the subject of a Conference Board of Canada profile in their “Organizational Excellence” series, available at no cost through their e-library. The publication coincided with the release of CARE Centre’s first interactive annual report, “The release of these two publications marks both a decade of growth and success for CARE Centre as well as the start of a new era of leadership and advocacy in the education and integration of IENS in Ontario,” said Executive Director Zubeida Ramji. “We’ve been honoured to support IENs in their journey to licensing, serving clients across our six offices in southern Ontario, because they do represent the future of our multi-cultural health care system in Canada.” To view the interactive version of the 2011-2012 annual report, visit www.care4nurses.org/annualreport. You can view the CARE Centre Conference Board of Canada Profile and other case studies and research at www.e-library.ca.
CARE Centre and Course Park Online Nurses Network have formed a partnership to offer a range of nursing courses to members and non-members alike. The courses include both regulatory and leadership programs, as well as an extensive variety of clinical titles. 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. The learning materials integrate solid medical and technical information with insight and stories from real-world clinical experiences, complimented by medical animations, interactivities and 3D graphics. The revolutionary Course Park platform provides access to a lifelong learning record, formal and informal peer-to-peer engagement, links to Facebook and Twitter, and blogs and articles from experts in health care. Follow the link to CARE Centre’s website: www.care4nurses.org/course-park.
Educators, provincial regulators and employers of IENs from across Canada gathered in Winnipeg this past April for the 6th National Conference of Partners in Education & Integration of Internationally Educated Nurses. The conference participants present best practices and the latest research in Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) education, transition & integration into employment, clinical practice and policy. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Josephine Etowa, BScN, MN, PhD, herself an IEN, as well as a midwife, a lactation consultant, a researcher and an educator. Conference materials can be viewed at www.rrc.ca/index.php?pid=8028.
Loy Asheri, RN, Cardio Vascular Intensive Care Unit, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre; Joan Lesmond IEN of the Year Award Winner, 2011
What was nursing like in your home country?
In Tanzania, people with enough money use private hospitals which are fully equipped. But government hospitals serve about 90% of the population and have little to offer, including medications. Health care teams try hard to be creative in using the few resources available but patients who can’t buy their own supplies still end up suffering and dying. The best part of working as a nurse in Tanzania was sharing the same language and culture with the patients to counsel and comfort them.
What are the responsibilities of your current job?
As a Critical Care Nurse working in a Cardio Vascular Intensive Care Unit, I am taking care of very unstable patients. My day-to-day responsibilities include caring for patients who are on ventilators, dialysis or other interventions. It’s a very fast working environment and critical thinking is crucial. It’s also challenging taking care of clients with poor prognoses and communicating with families using a sensitive, culturally-appropriate approach.
What’s the best part of nursing in a large Toronto hospital?
Working at Sunnybrook, which is a large teaching hospital, has given me never-ending learning opportunities. As a member of the Critical Care Education Committee I have been involved in research as well as facilitating implementation of best practices in the unit. Sunnybrook exposes me to health care teams of all different professions. I have also enjoyed being a preceptor for students from Ryerson University, as well as mentoring new staff in our Unit.
How do you see the role of the nurse in Canadian health care?
A nurse spends 24/7 at the bedside with patients and families. The nurse plays an important role in taking the first intervention in a critical and/or emergency situation; families build that therapeutic relationship with the whole health care team through nurses. Generally speaking, the role of nurses is huge.
What has been your proudest nursing moment?
My proudest moment was the day my manager at Sunnybrook, Pamela Meyer, told me that I had been nominated for the Joan Lesmond IEN of The Year Award. It was a joy to receive recognition for my work as a bedside nurse. The day I received the award was the best moment of my nursing career so far!
Any words of advice for IENs on their journey to registration?
All my fellow IENs are so brave in leaving their countries. We may have different reasons why we came here, but we all endure the same challenges. We’re all affected by cultural differences, language barriers, the loneliness of family separations, the challenges of getting re-established… and don’t forget the ever-changing Canadian weather! It takes courage, hard work, determination and support. CARE Center was my shoulder to lean on and helped me make it to the end of the marathon that was starting my new career as a nurse in Ontario.
This past July CARE Centre was joined by partners, clients and Mayor Mark Gerretsen to launch our new Kingston office in the KEYS Job Centre at 182 Sydenham Street. In his keynote speech, Mayor Gerrestsen told the gathering, “What we’re seeing here with CARE (Centre) and KEYS…with respect to immigration is so vitally important, not just to our community or province, but to the country as a whole.”
MPP John Gerretsen and Federal MP Ted Hsu, who were unable to attend, sent greetings applauding the work of bridge-training programs like CARE Centre, and the benefit IENs bring to communities across Ontario. Locally, Scott Clerk from Kingston Immigration Partnership was integral to CARE Centre’s expansion to Kingston, as were many members of the local immigrant-serving and health care communities. We are looking forward to forging partnerships with St. Lawrence and Loyalist Colleges as they can provide essential academic support to our clients/IENs. CARE Centre will continue to work with many partners in Kingston, Belleville and Brockville to serve IENs in all of the surrounding catchment areas.
Prior to the official opening in Kingston, Case Manager Iris Kennedy and Professional Practice Lead Ruth Wojtiuk introduced the organization through information sessions that helped reach more than 20 area-based IENs, attended a speed-networking event for local service agencies, commenced discussions with Kingston General Hospital as a placement site for the Observational Job Shadowing program, and established an arrangement with with Kingston Community Health Centres to access their Ontario Telemedicine Network facility. Three CARE Centre members/IENs recently completed the Exam Preparation & Review Course in preparation to write the nursing registration exam this fall. CARE Centre would also like to acknowledge the assistance of our Community Advisory Committee Committee including Lynn Walker, Tabitha Rutledge, Gail Orr, Lia Fugaru, Suellen Wells, Steve Kirby, Maria Natividad, Madeleine Nerenberg, Scott Clerk and Elizabeth Allen. Raymonde Degbey, a CARE Centre alumni member from Benin, who completed the CARE Centre program in London and now works for the Correctional Service of Canada in Kingston, has also joined our local advisory committee and jumped in to mentor new members – starting at the launch reception! Also featured in the photo with Case Manager Iris Kennedy are members Lia Fugaru and Pamela and Michael Mayuga. CARE Centre extends our sincere thanks to everyone who made us welcome and we look forward to working with our talented Kingston-area IENs and partner organizations.
With a number of regulatory changes being announced by the College of Nurses of Ontario, CARE Centre’s Exam Preparation course offers more value than ever before. Now that the safe practice window has tightened to three from five years, and applicants must complete the registration process within two years, a specialized approach to the RN and RPN exam is highly recommended to members. The exam preparation course is 80 hours of material covered over a flexible 10-day schedule at a cost of $350 for members, about a tenth of the price of many commercial courses on the market.
“The exam prep course is an important part of CARE Centre’s customized action plan to help IENs learn the socio-cultural aspects of Canadian nursing to write their exams with confidence,” says CARE Centre Executive Director Zubeida Ramji.
Omar Taladua (shown in cover photo) is an RN at Sunnybrook Hospital who cautions against taking the exam without proper preparation, as he did when he came from the Philippines in 2005. “When the CNO said I was eligible to sit the exam, I was eager to do it on the very next date. After taking it I got a letter stating that I missed my goal by one point. I was so depressed that I almost gave up nursing.” After taking the Exam Prep course, Omar felt he had a firm grasp of the material. “When I took the second exam every question fell into place. I could understand them very clearly.” Not only did Omar land a job he loves, he also joined CARE Centre’s board of directors as a member representative.
The exam preparation course is available several times a year delivered by a number of expert instructors, like Hamilton-based Sadie Sattan, shown here with CARE Centre member Yemewedish Daemo celebrating her nursing registration. More detailed information is available on the website at www.care4nurses.org/what-we-do/exam-preparation.
CARE Centre has had a long-standing collaboration with York University’s Internationally Educated Nurse program through the School of Nursing and faculty member Dr. Patricia Bradley. In a unique research project, CARE Centre’s Zubeida Ramji and Dr. Bradley undertook a visual ethnographic research project to further understand the experience of IENs transitioning into the workplace. A purposive sample of 15 CARE Centre member IENs employed as RNs and/or RPNs in Ontario were brought together to share their personal integration journeys. The IENs were asked to draw a picture or pictures that represented their experience of being an IEN who transitions into the workplace in Ontario. The focus group was audio recorded to describe and reflect on what the images conveyed and to allow for further analysis. There were many representations of paths and stairs and highs and lows. One IEN commented, “…it’s a long process, especially for internationally educated nurses…maybe they don’t trust us…they all told me, ‘you don’t have any experience…’”
“Major themes emerged through the analysis of images and focus group data with several implications to assist the transition of IENs into the workplace,” said Dr. Bradley. “Innovative research such as this that creates safe places for IENs to express themselves in different ways, and in their own words, informs us. We need to encourage IENs throughout their education to focus on those soft communication skills to ease their transition to rewarding employment.”
More information on York University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) for Internationally Educated Nurses is available at www.yorku.ca/health/nurs/programs_inter_educated.html.