In 2014, the Health Leadership and Learning Network at York was involved in the creation of the Ontario Internationally Educated Nurses Course Consortium (OIENCC). Their goal is to support the pathway of internationally educated nurses (IENs) toward becoming registered nurses (RN) in Ontario.
Recently, the OIENCC were granted a $1.5-million boost by the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in hopes of “updating its successful competency-bridging program of study for IENs to help address Ontario’s demand for RNs,” according to York Media Relations.
In a statement from the consortium from York Media Relations, the Program Management Working Group explains, “COVID-19 has compounded the challenges IENs face in becoming RNs in Ontario. It has also increased the demand for IENs to work in our healthcare system to meet the diverse needs of our population. This funding for a flexible program is a timely response by the government as the need to address these challenges becomes more pressing.”
Dr. Pat Bradley, professor emerita at York’s School of Nursing along with Dr. Elaine Santa Mina of Ryerson University are two primary figureheads at the OIENCC. In a joint statement for Excalibur, Bradley and Santa Mina say, “The pandemic has emphasized the urgent need for registered nurses in Ontario. Internationally educated nurses can contribute in meeting the provincial need for RNs, once registered with the regulator, the College of Nurses of Ontario.”
Both Bradley and Santa Mina agree that throughout the pandemic, the province’s healthcare system has particularly taken the brunt of various hardships from job losses, poor working conditions, overwork, and lack of additional compensation. For the consortium, “The need for RNs has prompted four educators at four universities and employers to collaborate responsively to create OIENCC as a solution that facilitates IEN registration.”
They continued, “this program positions IENs for success towards eligibility for registration and then employment across Ontario as RNs — it is a timely response to the pressing need for Ontario RNs.
“The pandemic has furthered the interests of IENs, their educators, and employers for ready access to learner-centred, flexible, education programming that transitions IENs into the Ontario health workforce,” they continue. “These core principles of IEN education have framed this hybrid innovative education pathway to employment for IEN RNs.”
The process of becoming an RN can be strenuous and taxing, especially for those who were educated outside the country and are attempting to obtain the position in Canada. While the severity of the Omicron variant seems to be a concern of the past, various health officials and politicians have often attested that “we are not out of the woods yet.”
Despite this, various IENs have been eager to help out and ease some of the stress that has already been hindering the province for the last two years.