Bramham: Regulatory hurdles are keeping Canadian nurses and others on the sidelines

Nurse Emma Beaumont came home six months ago. But his dream of helping during COVID has been thwarted by a labyrinthine licensing system.

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Canadian Emma Beaumont graduated in April with a nursing degree from Brigham Young University in Utah, passed an internationally recognized licensing exam and returned home planning to join the battle against COVID-19 .

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But his dream was thwarted by Canada’s labyrinthine permit system.

Six months after applying for her credentials to be approved by the National Nursing Assessment Services, Beaumont is still waiting.

“I’m generally a very positive, upbeat person,” Beaumont told me. “I try not to complain about a lot of things, and I realize that things take time. But there have definitely been days when you’re so tired and exhausted and frustrated with this process.

Some of these days she feels demoralized, more like a dropout than a graduate with her career ahead of her. His skills have been rusting away as his former classmates have been working and perfecting them for months.

Beaumont still had a year on his student visa and could have stayed. But the Abbotsford native chose to return home, having passed the US National Council Licensure Examination, the same exam that Canadian nurses take after graduation.

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“I felt this desire to return home and join the ranks at home on Canadian soil to help my own country, my own province, my community. … I had anticipated that this process (of obtaining a license) would only take a few months.

That’s certainly what the Assessment Services website says. He says it usually takes 120 days. After filing all the paperwork on August 5, Beaumont believed him.

She applied and was offered a job in the orthopedic trauma unit at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, pending certification. The position is still vacant and Beaumont is still waiting.

“I’ve never received a straight answer (about why it’s taking so long),” she said.

“It’s been an exhausting process when you know you have the credentials and the certifications and you’re honest and trying to go through the right process to get your license, and knowing the health systems here are bleeding and they’re begging nurses to join the ranks and they broadcast advertisements to become healthcare heroes.

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Unlike internationally trained nurses, she did not need to take a language test. His transcripts and documents are all in English, so no translation was needed (for which the grading service charges $55 per page).

But here’s the ironic twist: Canada’s National Nursing Assessment Service doesn’t do the assessments. It only collects the paperwork, the $650 application fee, and sends it to Philadelphia where the real work is done by the Foreign Schools of Nursing Graduate Commission.

The absurdity of mailing his paperwork from Utah to Ontario and then across the border so an American nonprofit could decide whether a 50-year-old American nursing program and fully accredited equivalent to a Canadian program is not lost on Beaumont.

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In an email response to my questions, the Executive Director of the Assessment Service, Gayle Waxman, insisted that 85% of applications are assessed within 12 weeks.

She acknowledged that due to the recent “very high volume” of applications there have been delays, but all of these applicants have been notified.

Beaumont was one of them, though Waxman didn’t explain why his was taking so long.

Yet even after approval from the Assessment Service, internationally educated nurses still have to apply to the provincial or territorial College of Nurses, a process that can take anywhere from six weeks to more than a year.

For this application, Beaumont will again need to gather most of the same documents — the assessment service does not share — and submit them to the BC College of Nurses and Midwives.

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Due to the pandemic, British Columbia has temporary emergency registration, and Beaumont may qualify. But as part of the regular process, internationally educated nurses must pay $3,000 to the Nursing Community Assessment Service to take a three-part written, oral and mock test. Oral and simulation tests are only done at Langara College in Vancouver. The next series is scheduled for March 12.

Still, Beaumont describes herself as lucky. She lives with her family and works at the Surrey Women’s Center as the process progresses. For immigrants, the wait can be even more trying.

Recently, a frustrated Beaumont contacted Mike de Jong, Liberal MP for Abbotsford West. He wrote to BC Health Minister Adrian Dix urging him to follow Ontario’s lead. Earlier this month, Ontario activated nearly 300 internationally trained nurses to work under supervision in hospitals, nursing homes and other health facilities until they have proven their skills and abilities to obtain a permit.

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Some were expected to be operational within days of the announcement.

Dix has yet to respond to de Jong’s January 13 letter.

Several times during our conversation, Beaumont reiterated his respect for a process that adheres to high standards. “We don’t want just any Joe Brown on the street, wherever he’s from, without a degree, to come in and practice as a nurse.”

What she wants for all applicants is a more efficient process.

“There are currently thousands of nurses in British Columbia who have COVID and are either unable to go to work or are still being forced to go to work while being COVID positive,” Beaumont said. “It just begs the question: couldn’t we use more nurses to help us? Wouldn’t that be a better solution? »

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Twitter: @bramham_daphne

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