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Collaboration between Ontario Health and College of Nurses of Ontario addressing critical staffing challenges in healthcare settings

January 25, 2023

Foreign Nursing Fast-Track Initiative

This sidestepping of the usual rules regarding nurse certification is welcome news and comes after collaboration between Ontario Health and the College of Nurses of Ontario. It is part of the efforts both groups are making to counter critical staffing challenges at hospitals and long-term care settings.

The Ontario Health Minister announced in a news conference that internationally trained nurses who have applied to practise in Ontario will be given the opportunity to meet their application requirements by working in Ontario health-care settings, “under the supervision of a regulated health-care provider.”

Apparently 1,200 applicants have already expressed interest in the program, which will lead to opportunities for them to become permanent staff at institutions in this province.

The CEO of Ontario Health whose Agency coordinates many parts of Ontario’s health care system said that “Every nurse matters. Every person that we can get to that front line of care makes a difference,” adding, “We’re very keen to get this underway.”

This is great news for Ontario hospitals as well as for our internationally trained nurses who previously found it virtually impossible to receive accreditation and a practice certificate in Ontario.

Supervised Practice Experience Partnership

In an effort to get nurses into our health-care system more quickly, the College this week unveiled the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership. This program is designed for people who have “met all their registration requirements except for evidence of practice and/or language proficiency.”

“The program offers applicants the option to complete a supervised practice experience in Ontario to demonstrate current nursing knowledge, skill and judgment and language proficiency,” College information states. “Applicants gain relevant practice experience under the supervision of a preceptor, within a CNO-approved practice setting in Ontario, to meet the requirement to register as a nurse.”

Anne Coghlan, the College’s executive director and CEO, says the Partnership is another step in modernizing the applicant assessment process to ensure the province has the nurses it needs.

But those enrolled in the Partnership have to be careful in how they describe themselves. According to the College, they must “refrain from using the protected title, ‘RN’ or ‘RPN.’”

They are also instructed to “only provide care you are competent to provide,” and never “supervise, monitor, or direct the performance of others [or] delegate or accept delegation of a controlled act.”

The College and Province should be commended for addressing the current staffing shortage in health care by allowing foreign-trained nurses to participate in the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership program. These are important steps towards addressing the nursing crisis in Ontario’s hospitals and long-term care settings. 

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