Bridge to Canadian Nursing: Alberta’s plan to support internationally trained nurses in their transition to Canada
Julie Patton, Contributor
The Alberta government is announcing its commitment to invest $7.3 million over the next three years into the Bridge to Canadian Nursing (BCN) program.
This program was designed to assist internationally trained nurses in their transition to the Canadian and Alberta nursing system. The program’s courses were developed to meet the requirements of the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta.
Through this initiative, an internationally educated nurse can build upon their acquired skills to meet the necessary requirements of Alberta and Canada’s entry to practice competencies.
This $7.3 million investment will create 600 new seats for nurses interested in taking the BCN program. Of these 600 seats, 256 will be at Mount Royal University (MRU), 250 at NorQuest College, and 120 at Bow Valley College.
Untapped source of knowledge
The BCN program was first introduced to MRU in 2006. The program takes nurses 10 to 14 months to complete and it consists of 10 courses that end with a six-week practicum.
Robyn Stewart, MRU’s BCN program coordinator and associate professor, told MRU that nurses are always needed. She says, “Professional nurses who immigrate to Canada but are not able to obtain or are stalled or delayed in obtaining a license are an untapped source of knowledge and skill.”
The Alberta government has also included $7.8 million in the provincial Budget 2023 to annually fund non-repayable financial support for internationally educated nurses.
This fund is available to all nurses who have been successfully enrolled in an approved bridging program. Starting in the 2023/2024 academic year, eligible students can access up to $30,000 over a five-year period to offset the costs of the BCN program. Recipients of this bursary are required to complete one year of nursing service in Alberta for every $6,000 accessed.
The amount of the bursary will depend upon the recipient’s program of study, tuition costs, licensing and program fees. The minimum amount that can be awarded is $8,000 and a third party will oversee the bursary program.
Recognizing Filipino nurses
Additionally, the Alberta government’s commitment to funding will fulfill a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) made back in October 2022 between the Alberta and Philippine governments. In this agreement the Philippines agreed to encourage nurses to choose Alberta if they were seeking international opportunities. In return, the Alberta government promised to provide financial, educational and licensing assistance to help Filipino nurses in their transition to Alberta.
This MOU will help address Alberta’s critical nursing shortage through recruitment of registered nurses as well as licensed practical nurses. As the province has a vibrant Filipino community, nurses from the Philippines will find themselves not only supported by the government but welcomed into the community.
Former premier Jason Kenney, stated at the time of the MOU: “We are thrilled to take this important step toward attracting internationally trained nurses from the Philippines to work in Alberta. These professionals are dedicated and highly educated, and can make an enormous contribution to bolstering our healthcare system.”
Through the BCN program and bursary available for internationally educated nurses, Alberta is fulfilling their promise to the Philippines to help support Filipino nurses who enter the province. In addition to this, they are creating more opportunities to enter the nursing system for other international nurses residing in Alberta.