Calls for B.C. to take action to help internationally-educated nurses get to work
With health-care workers sick and burnt out amidst the ongoing pandemic, B.C. is facing calls to do more to ensure internationally-educated nurses can join the workforce.
Emma Beaumont completed a nursing program at Brigham Young University in the United States in April of last year.
Despite writing the same test as Canadian nurses, she says she's been waiting since August for a response from the National Nursing Assessment Service. The agency is responsible for credentialing of nurses in Canada.
"You're forced to just sit by and kind of watch everything implode, knowing you could do something but your hands are tied," she told CTV News in an interview.
She passed the test and got licenced in Utah. Beaumont then returned to her hometown of Abbotsford, B.C., and applied to the NNAS in August.
She was told it could take 12 weeks.
In the meantime, she applied for, and got, a position at Royal Columbian Hospital as a casual employee. But she can't work there without going through the steps to be credentialed.
"It's disheartening to have to sit on the sidelines knowing you could make a difference. Albeit a small one. But you could make a difference in this health-care crisis we are experiencing."
She said she knows she wouldn't be working on the front lines, but could help in some way to alleviate the nursing shortages making headlines.
A provisional system is available in B.C., but internationally-educated nurses like Beaumont need to get their NNAS documentation first.
Beaumont contacted MLA Mike De Jong who wrote to Health Minister Adrian Dix. In his letter he noted, "I am advised that, starting immediately, internationally-educated nurses will be allowed to work in Ontario hospitals, long-term care homes and other health settings grappling with pandemic related staffing challenges."
He's now urging B.C. to do the same.
"Every day on this newscast, and in newspapers, we hear about the struggles nurses and health-care workers are confronted by, in terms of burnout and the challenges of the pandemic, and yet nothing appears to have been done to tap into this talent pool," he explained in an interview.
Even though the Health Ministry isn't in charge of credentialing, the MLA suggests there may be other ways to expedite the process.
"Make use of the emergency powers that exist as other provinces are doing to ensure that people like Emma can go to work."
Dix was not available for an interview and the Health Ministry didn't respond by deadline.
The B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives estimates between 300 and 400 nurses trained outside the province apply for credentials each year.
Beaumont, who has taken a different job while she waits for approval, says she wants to highlight that this is an issue.
"I'm just hoping that we can spread awareness that there are nurses who are eager and willing to support the system and get to work. And we're kind of sitting with our hands tied," she added.
When Beaumont receives her NNAS assessment, she'll have to go through the provincial process to get her credentials recognized, which could take another 10 weeks.
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