Ontario’s plan to use internationally educated nurses will still leave some on the sidelines

Internationally educated nurses will now be able to don their gowns and start working in the field right here in Ontario.

But, even with Tuesday’s announcement that the province is turning to this group for help amid Omicron’s blow to the healthcare sector, some nurses like Karla Ducusin still won’t be able to practice.

Ducusin worked as a nurse in the Philippines for more than three years before moving to Canada in 2018. The 32-year-old woman completed all the licensing requirements that this program would speed up, but the only hurdle is immigration status.

She said that she applied for permanent residence in October 2020 and has been calling weekly to see how she has progressed, but is caught in an immigration delay. Until it is finally approved, you will have to continue working as an in-house caregiver for a client.

Ducusin co-founded a Facebook group of some 300 internationally educated nurses (commonly called IENs) who have also had to work as caregivers in Canada due to these obstacles. Like her, many will still have to wait.

“This is still a good day,” Ducusin said in an interview with the Star. “Nurses with international education are now being recognized, that we exist and that we can help with this pandemic.”

As hospitals and long-term care homes face staff shortages and an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the Omicron variant, healthcare professionals have been talking about the internationally trained talent staying behind. margin due to extensive licensing programs.

The Ontario College of Nurses and Ontario Health partnered on the new “Supervised Practice Experience SocietyWhich will allow applicants to meet language proficiency requirements and evidence of practice while working in the field.

The program will start immediately with around 300 IEN which will be combined with a pool of 50 hospitals in Ontario and go to work as soon as possible. About 1,200 IEN have already expressed interest, Health Minister Christine Elliott said during Tuesday’s announcement.

Once they meet the licensing requirements, these nurses would become permanent employees at the agency where they started working, said Matthew Anderson, CEO of Ontario Health.

“These are people we want to permanently incorporate into the workforce,” Anderson said during the announcement.

Birgit Umaigba, a registered nurse and instructor at Centennial College, has for three years expressed the obstacles that IENs have had to overcome in order to work in Canada.

The traditionally lengthy process for internationally trained healthcare workers to register and obtain a license in Canada is notorious. And Umaigba said that it is a disadvantage for us.

“Ontario has been missing the wealth of knowledge and diversity that these nurses bring to the profession,” he told the Star.

Some of the students Umaigba has had over the years have worked everywhere from the US to Saudi Arabia. Sometimes they work in remote areas with little or no technological resources. “They are very adaptable to different clinical situations.”

The hope that Umaigba and many of these IEN have is that these opportunities will be long-lasting and that inequalities are addressed, such as the one percent salary caps approved in 2019 through Bill 124.

“I really hope these nurses are not being used as band-aids to cover up underlying systemic inequalities,” Umaigba said.


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