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Groundbreaking Changes Made for Internationally Educated Nurses Coming to Alberta

April 4, 2023

The College of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CRNA) is committed to removing barriers for internationally educated nurses (IENs) who wish to transfer to Alberta. On April 4, 2023, the CRNA is reducing barriers and giving applicants more options and quicker pathways to apply to become registered nurses.

Regulation needs to be different. There must be a balance between risks and regulatory processes. The current system has too many unnecessary barriers for internationally educated nurses to be recognized for their competencies and skills. They are valuable to Alberta's workforce, and the CRNA will acknowledge the work they have already done that has earned them their current registration. The new process design uses proactive, risk-based decisions and is informed by evidence.

Entrance Exams to Demonstrate Competence

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is an internationally recognized entrance exam that all recent Alberta graduates need to take to become a registered nurse. IEN applicants and recent graduates both prove they have the competence to practice nursing by passing the NCLEX-RN. International applicants will have choices and will no longer need a lengthy and costly credential assessment before they can write the NCLEX-RN.

Applicants can now meet the competence requirement using a pass on the NCLEX-RN if they:

  1. Have registration in any global jurisdiction and have already passed the NCLEX-RN.
  2. Have registration in one of nine international jurisdictions and request to write the NCLEX-RN with the CRNA. The nursing jurisdictions are the Philippines, India, the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Nigeria, Jamaica, New Zealand and Ireland. These jurisdictions represent 94 per cent of IEN applicants from the last five years.
  3. Verify they have an equivalent education from any jurisdiction and request to write the NCLEX-RN with the CRNA.

Removing Barriers for Meeting the Currency Requirement

Some applicants may have been in Canada for a period and need help to meet the currency of practice requirement or they may not be currently registered. This group can combine their verification of equivalent education with the 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.

Precedent-Setting Improvements

In addition, the assessment process for all other international applicants has been revised and standardized. The new process reduces timelines for assessment by helping applicants to understand what requirements they need to meet before they apply.

Applicants will have access to a registrant navigator to learn about the requirements and be directed to the most appropriate pathway for their situation. While the assessment process still considers each applicant's unique situation, the standardized process will be transparent about how the CRNA makes decisions based on each requirement.

Continuing to Lead the Way

Regulation needs to change, and we recognize that many IENs already have the competencies necessary to provide ethical, safe and competent care in Alberta. One future pathway option will be the Nursing Community Assessment Service (NCAS), which partners with other jurisdictions and regulators.

The CRNA will continue to make further announcements as changes are implemented.

Quick Facts

  • All applicants will still need to meet the registration requirements to obtain a permit, including currency of practice, good character, fitness to practise, jurisprudence and liability insurance.
  • There are 108 internationally educated nurses currently in the assessment process.
  • For IENs transferring their permit in the last five years, most applicants were educated in the Philippines (40 per cent) or India (37 per cent).
  • Alberta continues to see a year-over-year increase in the volume of IEN applications. However, this has not resulted in a longer wait time. In 2021, the wait time was decreased by 20 per cent, then further reduced by another 48 per cent in 2022.
  • Education verification options have increased and now align with the immigration process.
  • The CRNA is collaborating with the Government of Alberta, employers, and other regulators to support Alberta's Health Workforce Strategy.
  • In addition to improving pathways for IENs, other initiatives are underway or have been implemented to support former nurses who are returning to practice and recent grads.

Are You an Applicant?

Information for applicants can be found on College Connect, the applicant and registrant portal. The new process will give applicants access to Alberta any time, anywhere and from any device. The CRNA will use the new rules to assess all applications that are in progress. Anyone who has applied for a permit in the past and thinks they would now be eligible for registration with the new rules should request a consultation with a registrant navigator.

The CRNA will still accept advisory reports from anyone who uses the NNAS process. A comparable or somewhat comparable result combined with active registration will be eligible for a provisional permit and the NCLEX-RN.