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Nurses receive support to join B.C.’s health system more quickly

Premier David Eby. Government of B.C. photo

VANCOUVER – The province is making it easier for internationally educated nurses to work in B.C.’s health-care system.

Internationally educated nurses (IENs) will no longer be required to pay application and assessment fees upfront, which cost more than $3,700. These fees will be covered directly by the Province in order to remove financial barriers for internationally educated workers who want to work in B.C.

“Supporting nurses is key to our work to making health care accessible to all British Columbians. Still, the demand for nurses is outpacing the supply,” said Premier David Eby, in a news release. “There are talented and skilled nurses with the right experience who want to practise in B.C. and support high-quality care, but they are kept on the sidelines by an expensive and complicated registration process. Whether a nurse was trained in or out of the province, we are ready to welcome those who are ready to care for British Columbians.”

The province is also providing new financial support to nurses returning to practice after a period of absence. Nurses looking to return to practice will no longer be required to pay a $300 application fee, and more than $4,000 in financial support will be available to cover assessment and eligible travel costs for nurses taking assessments in order to re-enter the workforce.

Nurses returning to practice will also be eligible to access as much as $10,000 in bursaries for any additional education required for returning to practice.

“By removing the barriers for more nurses to join our health-care workforce, we are ensuring that people throughout the province have greater access to the health services they need, when they need them,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Our government will continue to take action to recruit and train more health-care workers to meet the health-care needs of British Columbians. In creating more accessible careers for nurses in B.C., we are delivering on our commitment to build a sustainable health system for many years to come.”

In April 2022, government announced $12 million to provide bursaries for IENs, launch a new marketing campaign, provide navigational supports to new and incoming IENs through HealthMatch BC, and launch a consolidated assessment approach. This has enabled some IENs to join the health-care system more quickly in the role that most closely matches their education and experience. Since then, 5,500 people have expressed interest in working in B.C., with 2,000 people actively working through the various stages of the registration and assessment process. More than 90 per cent of nursing applications received in 2022 by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) came following these changes.

In September 2022, the province also committed up to $1.3 million to set up a new pathway to make it more efficient for IENs to obtain licensure in B.C. The funding will support BCCNM and the Nursing Community Assessment Service in creating a new streamlined approach to assessment and registration, so that more IEN applications can be assessed by BCCNM each year. This is expected to reduce the waiting period for nurses looking to work in B.C., from three years to approximately four months to nine months.

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