Sunday, July 07, 2013

IEN who left nursing > 5 years

I received the following question from an IEN on my "IEN preparing to apply to CRNBC" blog post.
From haidee gabriel on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 12:57:00 AM: 
My name is [name-removed for privacy] and I'm a registered nurse in the Philippines and my case is kind of the same with Raine's situation, an internationally educated nurse who relocated from the Philippines to BC, Canada. I wasnt able to practice my profession as well in the Philippines. The difference about my case and Raine's is that, I graduated March 2007 and its been 6 years now. Do you think I can still challenge the exam or continue with my application? I need your expert opinion about this. What do you think is the best thing to do so i can still be a registered nurse here? I still want to challenge the exam if possible coz i dont have much time to go back to school coz i have a little baby. Your response to this email will be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much in advance. Please email me your response as well in my email add if you dont mind, its [email-removed for privacy] Thank you so much once again.

Hi Haidee,

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.

I need your expert opinion about this.

Firstly, let me be very clear about this: I am NOT an expert on the subject of your questions, nor was I ever an expert; and I did NOT EVER claim to be so. PLEASE DO NOT GET ME INTO TROUBLE BY STATING/IMPLYING OTHERWISE. I am just another IEN sharing my personal experience and opinions. If, for some reason or other, you missed my declaration and disclaimer on my other blog post, I  am replicating it here (below) for your information. Please read through it so that you are clear on the purpose/value of my personal sharing.
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.
Ok, now that we're clear on the purpose of my sharing, let's look at your issues. 

CLPNBC is very clear that about your situation here. Quote from CLPNBC website:
If you have been out of nursing practice for five years or more, you will be required to complete further education prior to writing the CPNRE.
For CRNBC, I would recommend that you attend one of their "Registration Informational Sessions" to get the answer from the horse's mouth. It is held monthly at CRNBC premises.

For both nursing boards, the rules are changed/updated frequently, so I suggest that you check directly with the boards than to rely on hearsay -- e.g. from people like me who applied for registration years ago when the rules were different for us back then.

i dont have much time to go back to school coz i have a little baby.

I've met an IEN who is meeting the CRNBC requirement for a nursing re-entry course via the mostly-online program from Thompson Rivers University. In other words, there are options for those who "do not have time to go back to school".

However, before you embark on any nursing re-entry training, I strongly recommend that you consult CRNBC and/or CLPNBC for their assessment on what their specific requirements are for you to return to nursing. Do not waste resources on training that would not be of any use to you. Do NOT trust anyone or any organization who/which claims to be able to provide you training that will ensure your nursing registration -- only the 2 nursing boards are authorized to decide on the appropriate trainings required. In short, follow the rules, or go your own way at your own peril.

So what can you do in the meantime? If you need above minimum-wage income, I suggest checking out the requirements for Registered Care Aide. With that registration, you can work as a Care Aide. There are private companies that assign shifts according to your availability for home care. [Click here and here for examples.] In addition, click here for some resources (e.g. funding, accreditation centres) available for foreign-trained immigrants to return to their professions.

Lastly, you did not mention it but I'd cover the matter for completeness since (IMHO) I have heard some complaints about discrimination and/or non-recognition of foreign training from other IENs. The requirement for re-entry training after having left nursing for 5 years or more is not specifically targeted at IENs. How do I know? I have personally met a Canadian-trained RN who had to do a nursing re-entry course as a result of having left the nursing profession for years. Note: Visually, she is a "white" Canadian; so yes, as far as I am aware, the system is fair and transparent.

As for emailing you, my apologies that I prefer not to correspond privately with any of my readers, unless you know me personally (face-to-face) otherwise. Hope the above helps. If you have further queries, please drop a comment below.

Cheers, WD.


  1. Hi its me. Thank you for that very informative reply WD. I really appreciate it. By the way, do you know if i need to call the CRNBC office to reserve or book an appointment for that registration and informational sessions? And also, do you know if reference letter from the school will be valid for care aide? Coz as i have said, i never had a chance to practice since i graduated and I have read in the care aide website that one one their requirements is a reference letter that you had a hands on experience on patients. Hope you find some time to reply. Thank you so much. You are a big help to those aspiring nurses and people who want to work in the healthcare field. God bless.

    1. Hi Haidee,

      Thanks for dropping by again and sharing your feedback.

      From the CRNBC link, there is no information on whether you need to pre-register to attend the "Registration Informational Sessions". If you want to check, you can contact CRNBC as follow.

      Tel: 604.736.7331
      Fax: 604.738.2272
      Toll-free: 1.800.565.6505

      For Care Aide Registry, 2 reference letters are needed. See the link below for a detailed guide from CACHWR.

      > one their requirements is a reference letter that you had a hands on experience on patients

      As far as I understand, the Care Aide Registry did not specify the above requirement. They only distinguish between those who are already working as Care Aides in Canada (i.e. historically, some started working as Care Aides prior to the set-up of the Registry), and those who do not have Canadian Care Aide work experience. Thus, from my understanding, even my nursing work experience in Singapore does not count at all.

      I don't know if the reference letter from your nursing school will be valid for a professional reference in your specific case, but it seems possible since they are looking for "Clinical Competency" (according to the CACHWR website). If they ask, you just have to explain your situation to them so that they understand that it's the best option you've got. In my case, I used my clinical evaluation from my BC nursing re-entry course. The other reference letter can be a personal reference letter (preferably from someone residing in BC, Canada), which is easy to fulfil.

      Lastly, if you're going the CRNBC way and using the CACHWR (i.e. Care Aide) as an interim measure for income-generation, I would suggest the following steps to save some money.

      1. Pay for the CRNBC IEN assessment -- it costs CAD525 currently.

      2. Once CRNBC acknowledges your nursing training and English language scores, etc, apply to CRNBC (using Form 66 -- currently the fees are below CAD28) to send CRNBC's documents to CACHWR.

      3. Apply for CACHWR registration online under the "Internationally Educated Health Care Professional" category.

      You're welcome. I'm glad to be of help.

      Cheers, WD.

  2. Would that be better than ICES first through BCIT? And do i need to pass the english exam (IELTS) first to become a Registered Care Aide? I know some people who submitted their documents for ICES first and didnt have to go through English Exams as to care aide registration. Im currently reviewing for IELTS right now though for my CRNBC assessment while waiting and completing my docs for RCA. Do you have any advice about taking the IELTS? I would really appreciate it. Ive been so stressed lately with all those stuff and trying to finish at least one coz i feel like Im running out of time. Am I? Your advises helps me push through though you're a big help! Thanks

    1. Hi Haidee,

      CACHWR's information for Internationally Educated Health Care Professionals (IEHCP) clearly states that you need to provide a proof of testing to a Grade 10 level of English. You can Google to find out what the IELTS equivalent is for the Canadian Grade 10 level of English.

      If money is not an issue, it does not matter which agency you get to review your nursing credentials as long as CACHWR accepts the review (i.e. ICES, CRNBC, CLPNBC are all ok). I have classmates who paid for the ICES. Personally, I used my CRNBC assessment report for CACHWR because I was trying to save some money. Afterall, I have heard that the ICES also costs around CAD500, but it will not help you at all with getting your RN registration with the CRNBC (i.e. you will have to pay CRNBC another CAD525 for assessment when you apply to become an RN).

      If money is an issue and/or budget is tight, here's another money-saving tip: I have heard that immigration settlement services agencies such as MOSAIC and ISS of BC offers FREE English assessment services for adult immigrants. If there is any gap in English language ability identified, they can provide referral for FREE ESL courses (English as a Second Language) to upgrade one's English. As far as I understand from people whom I've met who took those ESL classes, it is available for up to Grade 12 Canadian English. You may need to sign-up with some career-related programs that they offer for free. You just need to approach these agencies for assistance.

      ISS of BC:


      Here's a disclaimer: I have not personally experience English assessment tests in Canada and do not know the details about ESLA (English as a Second Language for Adults) offered by the immigration settlement services agencies. That is because when I signed up with one of the agencies and provided them my background, IELTS result and met up with the career advisor, she decided that my English was "good enough" and that I do not need any assessment. Thus, all the information above is mostly hearsay, and so please do take it with a huge dose of salt and at your own risk.

      It is hard for me to advise you on how to prepare for IELTS as I do not know you personally, and thus I do not know your strengths and weaknesses. You can Google for a variety of online resources available (including some free stuff that people share) regarding that matter.

      In my case, my only preparation was tuning in to the BBC Radio Service for about a week before IELTS, Googling for how others prepare for IELTS and blogging in English. I've previously shared my thoughts on my IELTS results in the post below.

      As for time, IMHO, I do not think that you're running out of it. After all, you have already passed the 5 year benchmark (that could have allowed for you to take the CLPNBC challenge exam). Please bear in mind that getting the paper-work done and getting your credentials acknowledged takes time in BC, Canada, there is no short-cut about it.

      The only concern that you may have is whether your nursing school in The Philippines continues to be recognized by CRNBC. I have personally heard from a Pinoy RN who told me that her nursing school was previously recognized but subsequently not accredited by CRNBC, so she was lucky that she got her RN licence before her school lost the CRNBC accreditation.

      But such is life, one never knows in advance what changes will happen. That is why, at the end of the day, while I am happy to offer my 2 cents worth of opinion to my readers, it is very important that my readers check with the relevant authorities themselves, because the rules are updated regularly.

      Cheers, WD.