NS to speed up the application process for Canadian and international nurses

Nurses applying for licensing in Nova Scotia must still pass an entrance exam.  (Belle Puri/CBC - photo credit)

Nurses applying for licensing in Nova Scotia must still pass an entrance exam. (Belle Puri/CBC – photo credit)

The Nova Scotia College of Nursing announced Thursday that it is taking new measures to make it easier for nurses from other parts of Canada and around the world to work in Nova Scotia.

The announcement represents a first move in Canada to rapidly track nursing applications.

Sue Smith, CEO and registrar of the nursing school, told CBC radio Maritime noon Innkeeper, Brett Ruskin, will make it a predictable path for international nurses looking to work here.

“We’re basically saying, if you’ve already been licensed in another jurisdiction, we’re going to recognize that… It’s so exciting,” she said.

According to a press release, registered nurses who are of good reputation and character and are licensed in Canada, the Philippines, India, Nigeria, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand can be licensed in Nova Scotia immediately after passing the license an entrance exam.

“We need more nurses across the province, and we need to make it easier for nurses who come here and want to build their lives to get to work quickly,” Secretary of Health and Welfare Michelle Thompson said in the press release.

For nurses working elsewhere in Canada, the application process will be reduced from five days to 24 hours starting March 29.

Jean Laroche/CBC

Jean Laroche/CBC

For international nurses, applications could be approved in a few weeks instead of a year or more. Nurses can apply directly to the college as early as May 1st.

Smith said patients continue to receive nursing care that meets Nova Scotia standards.

“We always put the public first… So if you’re a patient in the hospital or receiving nursing services at a clinic, you have the same level of expertise as any nurse who has also been trained and graduated and licensed Nova Scotia,” she said.

Smith said the college surveyed the licensed nurses from those seven countries.

“You have the same scope of practice as a registered nurse in Nova Scotia,” she said.

number of nurses

Nurses make up the largest category of health care providers in the province, Smith said.

The College enrolled more international nurses in 2022 than in 2019, 2020 and 2021 combined, totaling 282 licensed practicing nurses, registered nurses or nursing practitioners.

Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, said in an interview with the Canadian Press that the changes are needed as part of a broader strategy to find nurses to fill about 1,500 vacancies at Nova Scotia Health and the IWK Health Centre occupy.

The union leader said existing university programs are not able to produce enough graduates to offset those leaving the profession. She said she often hears stories from internationally trained healthcare workers working in the service industry or driving taxis in Nova Scotia because of long delays in getting certification.

“If they are here and want to work in the system, then the system has to make it possible. Up until now it has been very cumbersome and time-consuming for everyone,” said Hazelton.

But she said it is also crucial to improve working conditions for existing nurses to ensure they have a reasonable workload and are able to take their leave.

“By working with our other partners, employers and government, together we can definitely make such a positive difference for all Nova Scotians,” said Smith.



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