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Collage of Charissa Cordon, Kirsten Krull, Nick Millar
HHS nursing advocates are grateful to receive additional funding for the Internationally Educated Nurse Integration program which helps newcomer nurses integrate into healthcare organizations.
February 8, 2022

HHS receives “game-changing” investment to integrate internationally-trained nurses

On October 21, the Provincial government announced that it would table legislation to remove barriers to the workforce that some internationally-trained newcomers face. The removal of these barriers will help address some of the labour shortages that many sectors are experiencing, including nursing.

Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) recently received $920,000 in funding from the Ministry of Labour-Ontario Bridge Training Program. The funding will help support HHS’ effective and popular Internationally Educated Nurse Integration (IEN) program. The IEN received its first round of funding from the Province in 2009. Due to the success of the program, additional funding was granted that will allow HHS to take in more nurses to the program this year.

The program is a vital and significant one to internationally educated nurses. One of the major questions newcomer nurses face is: “do I follow my dream of being a nurse here in Canada or do I put that on hold and help to support my family back home for a period of time?” This program addresses this issue by helping internationally-trained nurses qualify to work in Canada more quickly.

Enhancing nursing education

As was announced in May of 2021, the Clinical Nurse Extern program at HHS was expanded and enhanced. That program is further being enhanced to include IENs.

“Nurses provide important care to our families and loved ones, but our province continues to face a shortage of these frontline workers,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “This program gives internationally-trained nurses, who have the skills and abilities to work in Ontario, the hand up they need to start serving communities across our province.”

Additionally, the IEN program is also launching a pilot project in collaboration with the College of Nurses of Ontario that will help internationally trained nurses renew their evidence of safe practice and to help them attain their nursing license. Charissa Cordon, HHS Chief of Nursing Practice, says the ministry’s additional investment in the IEN program is appreciated.

“With these programs aligned, our support for our IEN group will be stronger,” she says. “This will help address the global nursing shortage challenges and will help get IENs their license faster, give them the Canadian experience and make them job ready sooner.”

Kirsten Krull, Vice President and Chief Nurse Executive, also welcomes the funding.

“Given the labour shortages experienced in nursing and with expected further shortages, having this additional investment in the IEN program will be a game changer that will further enhance our nursing recruitment efforts,” she says.

Helping nurses achieve success

Nick Millar, clinical manager of the F5 COVID-19 acute unit and B3 Medicine/CCU at the Juravinski Hospital, was one of the first participants in the IEN program. After arriving in Canada from the Philippines in 2008, Nick began to research how he could achieve his dream of being a nurse in Canada. That is when he discovered the IEN program.

He describes the program as “life changing” and credits it with helping him achieve success in his chosen career. “The advice from experts and mentors is superb,” he says. “It gives participants enrolled in the program a thorough understanding of the landscape of healthcare in Canada, as well as access to language training, resume writing and interview preparation.”

Now firmly established in his career, Nick cares for some of our community’s most vulnerable. Recently, he became a clinical manager and is now pursuing a PhD in Nursing at the University of Alberta. Additionally, he decided to give back to the IEN program by becoming a clinical integrator mentor to new nurses in the program.

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