The Health Minister of Ontario has instructed the nursing college in the province to move forward with regulatory amendments that could expedite the entry into the practice of thousands of nurses with international training.
Last month, Sylvia Jones, the Minister of Health, gave the College of Nurses of Ontario instructions to create strategies for quickly registering individuals with international degrees since staffing shortages have resulted in temporary emergency department closures throughout the province.
One of the suggestions made by the college was to allow internationally trained nurses to hold a temporary registration. At the same time, they go through the requirements for full registration, which include finishing their study and passing an exam.
Additionally, it suggested making it simpler for the 5,300 Ontario-based non-practicing nurses to re-enter the workforce if they choose to do so. The current requirement suggests a nurse should have practiced within the last three years to be reinstated, but this requirement could be removed.
Jones has now instructed the institution to modify such changes to the regulations as soon as possible.
She wrote to them in a letter obtained from The Canadian Press saying it is her intention that should these amendments be accepted by the government, the college will immediately begin enrolling (internationally educated nurses) and other applicants who will benefit from these changes.
Jones has asked the regulator just how many nurses it anticipates to benefit. The college has stated that the amendments might help the 5,970 active international applicants currently residing in Ontario.
The nursing college had also stated that with temporary registrations, it might amend the rules such that a temporary certificate would only be revoked after two unsuccessful exam attempts rather than the one that nurses are presently permitted.
The ministry stated that it would rely on the college’s knowledge to draft the regulatory amendments that should be included. However, a temporarily registered nurse must be monitored by a registered practical nurse, a registered nurse, or a nurse practitioner.
Additionally, Jones has given the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons permission to establish a temporary, three-month registration for medical professionals with licenses from other provinces.
The minister had also heard from that college about the need for practice-ready evaluations, enabling doctors with international training to be swiftly evaluated over 12 weeks of supervision and close observation.
The college wrote to the minister that these initiatives, already in use in seven other provinces, are intended to send doctors to underserved communities and offer a route to licensure.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario urged the government to start working on a Practice Ready Assessment program for Ontario immediately.
The government funding, and coordination paired with key system partners, a program could be put into place quickly and start injecting a fresh supply of (internationally educated physicians) into the system as early as spring 2023 and onwards, according to the report.
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