During my first few months here it was a tough road; we have to step outside our comfort zone to survive. Thank God I met CARE Centre. CARE gave me ample information, not only related to the licensure process, but also continuing education, financial supports and specialized language and communication and nursing courses. Now I am working at Scarborough Hospital as a cardiology nurse, and also at Bridgepoint Active Health as a medical activation nurse. I encourage all internationally educated nurses to continue to fight for your dreams and never lose hope. To CARE, thank you for continuing to care for all of us. I look forward to participating in future networking and professional development opportunities!
Like many IENs, I my first job in Canada was as a PSW before I gained my RN registration and secured a position at Prince ss Margaret Hospital seven years ago. Working in my field of expertise in a world-class hospital is a dream come true. Now that I made it past my struggles, it is my utmost desire to give back by helping other IENs to reach their goals and potential, just as I was helped and supported by CARE Centre when I arrived in Canada. Ontario has a very progressive and innovative health care system in which nurses are respected as an essential discipline. Toronto contains the most multicultural population in the world, according to UNESCO, and this makes IENs practically indispensable to the city.
In Peru I was an operating room nurse for six years. In my home country, health care is a privilege not everyone can afford. But I felt that being a nurse was not only a job but also a commitment to community health. I still feel the same way. As soon as I arrived in Toronto, I started looking for a nursing job and found that it was not going to be as straightforward as I thought. I enrolled in full-time English classes and started working a survival job until midnight, then found out I was pregnant. The turning point on my journey was joining CARE Centre (and having my husband bring my daughter to my nursing classes for breastfeeding!). In 2010, I received my registration from the CNO – they told me I was the first Peruvian RPN in Ontario. IENs help address Ontario’s diversity. The province is blessed with people coming from every corner of the world.
I‘d never imagined it would be so hard. I had all these plans, so many goals. But my contacts turned out not to be of much help. People change. It was tough. Then I went to CARE Centre and was so impressed, I signed up. My case manager pushed me when I was ready to give up. They helped me prepare for the Registered Nurse exam. There’s an amazing nurse instructor, Lindy Lewis, and CARE arranged for her to teach us. She even came to my convocation. Who does that? They knew how I was struggling, how important it was for me to pass that exam. Having a teacher believe in you is very motivating. It pumps up your belief in yourself, makes you think you can achieve your dreams. This nursing license is a lifetime thing — you have to give it the required time to earn it. Now at my job I am in charge of all procedures. I monitor the patients, they are my responsibility.
I graduated with a Bachelor of Nursing degree from the Good Samaritan College. In response to the growing need for nurses due to baby boomers entering retirement, my wife and I emigrated to Canada in 2005. When the College of Nurses of Ontario said I was eligible to sit the registration 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 joining CARE Centre and taking the Exam Preparation and Review course I had a firm grasp of the material. When I wrote the exam again every question fell into place. I could understand them very clearly. Now I work as an RN at Sunnybrook Hospital!
Back home in Ethiopia, I was a respected nurse; women desperately needed my assistance. When we came here, things became more complicated. There was a time when people doubted my competency in nursing. I was told to go back to my country and not to waste my time. I came across CARE and met with my case manager. She became my coach, mentor, advisor and also an activist for me. If it weren’t for CARE I wouldn’t be a registered nurse. In the first week, my daughter told her teacher and all her classmates that her mommy was an RN. I realized that my registration as a nurse was beyond a professional dream. It was a source of pride for my kids. I was able to meet their needs and also set standards for my children who are going to build the Canada of tomorrow.
When I moved to Canada, I had to really struggle. Starting from scratch isn’t easy at all. When I first wanted to apply for the registration exam it was so overwhelming because it’s not just about knowledge; it’s about culture and the psycho-social, and it has to be in a Canadian way. Within six months, I was okay, I passed the exam. And this wouldn’t have happened without CARE. They really helped me a lot, put me on the right track. Then I found a job as a community visiting nurse. At the beginning I wondered, after 15 years of intensive care nursing, can I really go and work with Ontarians in their houses? One day I went to a senior for a therapeutic visit, and stayed with him, telling stories, for a couple hours. When I was leaving he said, “Thank you son, you really made my day.” That time, I really knew that I can make it in Canada. Finally I got hired in the ICU at London Health Sciences University Hospital, and faced the challenge of really becoming a Canadian nurse working in a team. They were so helpful; they accepted me and trust me. Now the sky is the limit!