Sunday, January 22, 2012

Conflict within the Chinese diaspora

It is an odd time to post this (on Chinese New Year's Eve) -- conflict within the ethnic Chinese diaspora. Nevertheless, I feel that it is something worth thinking about. What does it mean to be Chinese? How are the Chinese emigrating from China now same/different from the Chinese diaspora that emigrated from China generations ago?

See the YouTube videos of 《香港人大戰內地人》 [Hong Konger wages war against Mainland Chinese] aboard a Hong Kong train.
Part 1:
Part 2:

Similar stuff is happening in multi-ethnic Singapore too. Descendants of earlier ethnic Chinese migrants living in South-East Asia have developed their own ethos/culture, with huge influences from the other ethnic groups. With a flood of China Chinese immigrants arriving on Singapore shores in recent years, various conflicts arise. E.g. The "No cooking or eating curry" uproar resulting in the "Cook and share a pot of curry" backlash event.

I wonder if something similar would happen in Richmond (dubbed the Chinese enclave) or other parts of Metro Vancouver. In Canada, earlier waves of Chinese immigrants were mostly Cantonese-speaking from Tai Shan [台山] or Hong Kong or other parts of Southern China. I wonder if they would have open conflict with the newer Mandarin-speaking Chinese immigrants from China. Personally, I have observed subtle prejudices from both sides to the other party. Being both Mandarin and Cantonese speaking (albeit not excellent in either), I am perched on an interesting no-man's land whereby I get to hear "stories" from both parties.
Yes, I was ever laughed at by Hong Kongers for my broken Cantonese. Yes, I was also ever laughed at by China Chinese for my half-past-six Mandarin. But guess what? In Metro Vancouver, being able to speak both gives me an upper hand for either side to consider me "自己人" [a member of their in-group].
p.s. If you can read Cantonese (or use a translator), you can see the Facebook url below for the Hong Konger's side of the story. 對於《香港人大戰內地人》by Ken Wai on Monday, 16 January 2012 at 21:27.對於香港人大戰內地人/10150481589033366

Friday, January 20, 2012

From unbearable lightness to 7.5 stones

For the first time in my life, I have no problem staying within the healthy Asian BMI range.

I was born with a typical ectomorph's bone structure. In addition, I am a person of inertia -- i.e. once I get started on an activity, I find it troublesome to break for meals. My habit of not breaking for meals is pretty much reinforced by the fast pace of life in Singapore. Thus, I grew from a skinny undersized kid into a skinny teen-sized adult. Almost all of my medical check-ups came with an "underweight" warning to ensure that I am getting enough caloric intake and nutrients.

After 14 months in Canada, I have gained around 5kg. At my part-time workplace, we have breaks scheduled every 2 to 2.5 hours. The scheduled breaks overwrote my habit of inertia and I eat/snack during the breaks. At school, we have 10 to 15 min breaks every hour or 2! Thus, my weight gain. Luckily, I have a pear shaped body which according to Wikipedia, "some studies suggest that fat in the thighs and hips may be beneficial to one's health".

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Spirit Bear

Today I learnt that not all white bears are polar bears. The Spirit Bear is a white bear from Northern BC, Canada. It is not an albino but the result of recessive genes expressing themselves. The video is about 45min long. The white bear appears at around 35:36, but don't miss out the other beautiful sights if you have the time.

SPOIL from EP Films on Vimeo.

Quote from the above video website:
" 'A powerful award winning documentary on the Great Bear Rainforest.' The film shows the splendor of nature and first nation culture with through world renown photographers and beautiful photography. It highlights the what we all want to protect but our addiction to burn more oil is helping to destroy. Go to to help protect this beautiful place."

As with so many developments all over the world, the battle is between
(i) corporate money and taxes for the government, versus
(ii) nature and First Nations culture (original inhabitants) conservation.

I don't know enough to comment further on the challenging choice. All I know is that at least in Canada, a significant amount of the taxes for the government goes back to the people in the form of various social services and safety net. One can't say the same for those countries where businesses and the government get rich at the expense of their citizens and environment.

Monday, January 09, 2012

The best-paid political leader in the world

"The best-paid political leader in the world"

The above is Yahoo! Canada's headline for this piece of Singapore news. Read the sub-title on Yahoo! Canada. Enough said.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

IEN preparing to apply to CRNBC

The following post is a response to a comment/question from Raine, an internationally educated nurse who relocated from the Philippines to BC, Canada. Raine asked about applying to CRNBC.
Hi there,

Would you mind sharing your experience with me as I am about to submit my application to CRNBC. I am 100% sure that I'll undergo SEC assessment too. My concern is that I have no hospital or clinical experience at all. I graduated last 2007, unfortunately I was not able to practice my profession while I was still in the Philippines. We just got here in Surrey BC and I am very desperate to become an RN here. I'm planning to study hard as I can, and even take a refresher course for a couple of months in preparation to SEC, or do you know someone who offers to help people like me in reviewing for SEC? thank you so much for your help

[Note: My response exceeded the 4,096 characters limit for Blogger comment, so I am posting it below instead.]


DECLARATION and DISCLAIMER: The following is my personal opinion. I am not from CRNBC nor in any way qualified to give advice to Internationally Educated Nurses, and thus any content from me shall be construed as a sharing of personal opinion, not advice. I do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided by me. Under no circumstances will I or anyone related to this content be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from any reliance on the information or other content posted or linked by me.

[Note added on 25-Mar-2013: For more information about obtaining registration with CRNBC, please attend their free "General Information Sessions" (every 3rd Friday of the month) held at CRNBC office.]

Hi Raine,

Thanks for dropping by and your comment.


Firstly a time-critical piece of information. You mentioned that you did not practise nursing in Philippines. There is a "Nursing Competence" requirement in CRNBC's Eligibility that says that you have to complete at least one of the following within the last 5 years:
a. worked as an RN for 1,125hrs
b. completed a nursing re-entry program
c. graduated from a basic nursing education program.

I take it that you're taking option c above. If I understand correctly, I think it means that if you graduated in May-2007, that you have until Apr-2012 to submit your application to CRNBC. It will take the CRNBC some time (read, months) to process your application, so do not let your current state of preparedness (or unpreparedness) delay your application.

[Addendum on 09-Jan-2012] In addition, after CRNBC informs you that you need to do the SEC assessment, you have 1 year from the date of the CRNBC letter to complete your SEC assessment requirement. So you would have time to get yourself ready for the required next step.


I recommend reading "What Is A Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC) Assessment?" from the Nursing In BC website. If you have to attempt all 4 areas of SEC assessments, the SEC would take 5 working days.

You asked if I know of anyone offering "a refresher course for a couple of months in preparation to SEC". I'm afraid I do not. Personally, I would not recommend paying someone to assist in one's SEC prep, but then that's my humble opinion. FYI, every SEC applicant is obliged to keep the actual test content of the CRNBC SEC assessment confidential. IMHO, it would be more effective to review through the CRNE prep. Appendix A in the CRNE prep lists the CRNE competencies which offers a good guide on what is expected of a Canadian RN. In addition, when you sign up for the SEC, you will be given a guide to the SEC and a sample of what the test questions would be like, with suggested answers included. I find the sample questions/answers very enlightening on what to expect and prepare for. [Click here for an example from the GNIE program.]

IMPORTANT note extracted from the CRNBC website: CRNBC does not approve any schools or programs that state they help prepare applicants for SEC assessments. If you take preparation courses or other courses before completing the SEC assessment and competency gaps are identified through the SEC assessment process, you may need to do additional coursework as directed by CRNBC.

As you know, the major difference between an RN and an LPN is the responsibility for drug administration. So logically it follows that one would need to know one's pharmacology well. That is, for the commonly-used or important medications, one will need to know the indications, pre-med checks, contra-indications, side effects, and have the ability to calculate the titration required. [Note: Fortunately, from my experience, one does not need to memorize the recommended dosages.] Based on some responses from the cohort who attended the SEC together with me, it seems that not all expected to be assessed to that level of detail in pharmacology. Be prepared.

With respect to the Canadian clinical context, RNs have a lot more* autonomy and responsibility in the areas of patient assessment, possible provisional diagnosis (based on symptoms detected), and initiating treatment. [*Note: I am comparing based on my understanding of the typical Asian* clinical context.] Fortunately for me, my nursing school and lecturers trained us based on the UK clinical scope of RN autonomy and responsibility, which is similar to Canada's. My understanding is that this may not be so in other countries (especially in Asia where doctors generally "run the show"). E.g. Someone I know had to attend a short course on patient assessment as a result of the SEC assessment because it was identified as a gap in her training/skills. In addition, in multicultural Canada, providing care based on the Canadian standards of ethics and cultural sensitivity is important. You will be assessed on that. However, the questions may be indirect, and thus you will need some awareness to detect that you're being assessed on such issues.

Assuming that your basic nursing education is from a recognized course (which it would be or CRNBC would have rejected the application outright), it may be useful to remember that the main objective of the SEC is not to fail one, but to identify gaps in one's knowledge and skills, and the required steps to remedy those gaps.


Otherwise, here are my 2 cents on the CRNBC eligibility requirements based on my understanding [*Disclaimer: No guarantee! Please check the facts for yourself to be sure.*]

In end-2009 when I submitted my CRNBC assessment, the pre-requisites were:

1. English Fluency. I took the Academic IELTS for the dual purposes of getting points for my Canadian PR application and meeting the CRNBC requirements. If you don't have a recent IELTS report, I would recommend attempting the CELBAN instead (Canadian English Language Benchmark Assessment for Nurses). Based on my observations, a Canadian certification is "more recognized" than an equivalent international certification when applying for jobs in Canada.

2. Registration where you studied nursing. You have to be registered in Philippines where you did your RN training. You mentioned that you did not practice nursing in the Philippines. That is not the crux of this criterion. In this criterion, what matters is whether you were registered as an RN with the nursing board in the Philippines after completing your nursing studies.

3. Registered in every location that you have worked as a nurse. You mentioned that, "My concern is that I have no hospital or clinical experience at all." Actually, for this requirement, it works to your benefit. Since you do not have any hospital or clinical experience, you do not need to submit Form 37 "Employment Reference for Nurse Registration". The following is for other readers of this blog: Have you worked as a nurse in any country before? Note: You need to consider not just your work experience as an RN, but also as a Licensed Practical Nurse (a.k.a. Assistant Nurse, a.k.a. Enrolled Nurse). It is best if you have not worked at levels below RN. Nevertheless, even if you did (e.g. during a transitional phase into nursing in a new country), it is not an elimination factor as long as you prove that you eventually became an RN in the country that you have worked as an LPN. This is based on my observation of a friend's case.

4. Registration in good standing. Make sure all your RN registrations are in good standing. Or if you are no longer registered (on the nursing board where you had been previously registered), make sure that the registration(s) ended in good standing. If there is any issue (e.g. complaints under investigation, warning given), you must declare it outright.

5. Nursing Education for RN. For LPN, midwives and psychiatric nurses, CRNBC is not the right nursing board to apply to.

6. Nursing Education - post secondary nursing degree program. This is where SEC comes in to evaluate the not just the standard of your nursing education but down to the level of your individual knowledge and skill. Thus, it is possible for 2 nurses graduating from the same school, with the same years and type(s) of experience, to receive different SEC assessment results. It all boils down to the individual's knowledge and skills.

7. Nursing Education - generalist training. Basically you need to show that you have theoretical and clinical experience in
(i) medical/surgical,
(ii) mental health,
(iii) maternal, and
(iv) paediatric nursing.
This is where your detailed official transcript of your nursing education matters. Your detailed official transcript will need to breakdown your nursing education into the number of hours of theoretical education and the number of hours of clinical training in each of the 4 areas. This is also where the SEC comes in, if there are any gaps in education identified. So far, from the feedback that I've gathered regarding SEC results, those who had gaps identified have to take short courses for them.

8. Nursing Competence, as mentioned above.

9. Criminal Record. You'll need to get that done for the Philippines and also Canada, and any other country that you've resided in. For Canada, you have to download the form from CRNBC. Fill out the form. Bring $20, your passport, your BC driver-license/ID card, a government issued letter to prove your residency in BC (e.g. MSP bill), and your PR card to an RCMP office and ask for a Criminal Record Check. Check url below for details.

That's all for the CRNBC Eligibility criteria.


You wrote, "We just got here in Surrey BC and I am very desperate to become an RN here."

Just to share with you, when I first landed in Canada, I had expected to get through the CRNBC assessments, additional training, and registration completed rather quickly. It took me a while to adjust to the Canadian pace of life, especially given the Singapore rat race that I came from. Generally, life moves at a faster pace in Asia than in Canada. You may have to be prepared for a long journey. That said, each immigrant forges his/her own journey in integrating into the Canadian society, so my experience may or may not be indicative of yours.

What I have found useful is to tap onto the resources available to immigrants and/or to network with other immigrants on a similar path. E.g. MOSAIC, an immigrant settlement services agency, runs the "Skills Connect for Immigrants" programme on behalf of the BC government. From my experience of the Skills Connect programme under the MOSAIC Vancouver branch, I not only benefited from the partial funding of related training in support of resuming my nursing career and the free career counselling offered, but also the encouraging words from my career counsellor.

I hope the above helps.

Best regards, Winking Doll
p.s. In another few hours, I will get up and prepare to attend my 1st day of nursing school in Canada.


[Addendum on 09-Jan-2012]

Raine wrote, "My concern is that I have no hospital or clinical experience at all."

Hi Raine,

Good news. I just returned from my 1st day in school. A couple of my classmates also have no hospital or clinical experience at all. Coincidentally, they were both from the Philippines and they did NOT work as an RN (or any nursing job) after graduation. I hope it answers your concern.

FYI, a Canadian classmate of Filipino descent did his basic RN education in the Philippines and returned to Canada thereafter. Since it would take some time (years) to be an RN in BC, he applied to be registered as an LPN. He is now working casually as an LPN while attending the Graduate Nurse Internationally Educated course for RN.

Also note (as added above) that after CRNBC informs you that you need to do the SEC assessment, you have 1 year from the date of the CRNBC letter to complete your SEC assessment requirement. Good luck with your CRNBC application.

Cheers, WD.