Precedent-Setting Changes for Internationally Trained Nurses in Alberta

Group of Nurses

Precedent-Setting Changes for Internationally Trained Nurses in Alberta

Over the last two decades, there has been a global shortage of nurses both in practice and academia — an issue that can be observed both Canada-wide and across the province of Alberta. In 2022, post-pandemic concerns grew surrounding the retainment of Alberta’s health care workers and mitigating the shortage of frontline workers such as nurses by expanding the province’s healthcare capacity. Internationally educated nurses (IENs)are an instrumental part of this plan and the implementation of more seamless process to support transitions of international nurses to Alberta has just been announced to support this.  

Groundbreaking Updates  

On April 4th, the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA) announced changes that have been made in pursuit of reducing the barriers previously in place for IENs to have their previous experience and acquired skills recognized. These changes will assist in addressing the nursing shortage by providing more options and accessible pathways for IENs looking to become registered nurses within Alberta. The CRNA will acknowledge nursing experience using proactive, risk-based decisions, informed by evidence. 

The New Process:  

Entrance Exams  

The NCLEX-RN is the globally recognized entrance examination that Alberta nursing graduates are required to take to demonstrate their competency and become registered nurses allowed to practice in Alberta. Previously, international applicants were required to complete timely and costly credential assessments before being able to take the NCLEX-RN examination, however the process has now been streamlined allowing internationally trained nurses to write the exam without meeting prior conditions.  

Applicants can now prove their competency and pass the NCLEX-RN if they meet the following conditions published directly by the CRNA: 

  1. They are registered in any global jurisdiction and have previously passed the NCLEX-RN. 
  2. They are registered in one of the nine international jurisdictions, namely, the Philippines, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Nigeria, Jamaica, New Zealand, and Ireland, which together represent 94% of IEN applicants from the past five years. They must request to write the NCLEX-RN with the CRNA. 
  3. They can demonstrate an equivalent education from any jurisdiction and request to write the NCLEX-RN with the CRNA. 

Currency Requirements 

Applicants that have previously been in Canada for a period must meet the currency of practice requirement or they may not be currently registered. Now, however, this group can combine all of their equivalent education with Alberta Registered Nurses Assessment Program (ARNAP) to meet the requirement. Applicants who complete the ARNAP can apply for a provisional permit until they pass the NCLEX-RN. 

These new updates are precedent-setting for the recognition of the competency and experience of IENs and support them in their desire to practice in Alberta. The implementation of this and continued improvements allows for the reduction of timelines and barriers for international nurses which will benefit the overall capacity of Alberta’s healthcare system. The CRNA continues to make updates and improvements to the current system, including assessing the opening of a future pathway option, the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS) which partners with other jurisdictions and regulators. 

Find out more about the application process here 

Hines Health Services is committed to the improvement of our medical services and the occupational health industry. If you need assistance with highly trained medical staff or how to enhance your nursing staff’s employee experience, contact us today! 

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