University Consortium Expands Courses and Opens Doors for Internationally Trained Nurses in Ontario

Did you know that if you are a skilled, internationally educated nurse, the Ontario Internationally Educated Nurses Course Consortium (OIENCC) can help launch your nursing career in Ontario? Here are the facts:

A new consortium made up of Ryerson, Trent, Windsor, and York universities, with support from the Council of Ontario Universities, has come together to develop innovative new competency-based courses to help prepare Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) to launch their registered nursing careers in Ontario.

For many years the struggle facing IENs has been strongly felt. Since 2013, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) has been assessing the competencies of IENs who want to practice in Ontario, and advising them that they must undertake recognized baccalaureate-level education in order to address any identified competency gaps. As a consequence, with relatively few university-level spaces currently available for IENs, thousands have been left stranded in their efforts to become RNs in Ontario.

That’s why the OIENCC came together; to provide a response to this situation.

The group worked for over two years to conceptualize and develop an approach that will address the needs of IENs who have a relatively small number of competency gaps, and who can be bridged into practice relatively quickly, and then received funds from the Province to develop the courses.

The project harnesses the shared passion and expertise of steering committee members from the four university schools of nursing and course developers from across southern Ontario.

“We couldn’t have done it alone,” members of the group emphasized. “We needed to work together in order to make it happen.”

Partnership and communication with nursing stakeholders, including HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency, CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses, and Touchstone Institute have been vital to the early success of the courses. Close communications with the College of Nurses of Ontario also continues to be a vital element of the process, ensuring that the courses meet the regulator’s parameters for educational recognition. The federal Immigrant Access Fund provides loans of up to $10,000 to IENs enrolled in the courses.

The courses are offered online to expand geographic access and optimize flexible scheduling for IENs who also work. Key elements of the courses include progressive opportunities for English language development, understanding of the culture of nursing in Canada, and real-time, interactive role playing to demonstrate achievement of nursing clinical competencies

The first round of courses launched in January with 34 students registered and the second round will begin in July.

Besides opening admissions to a second round of the courses, OIENCC has also opened up its three communications courses to IENs who are preparing for the IEN Competency Assessment Program (IENCAP).

These courses – English Language for Nurses in Canada, Academic and Professional Writing, and Culture of Nursing Canada – will help prepare IENs to perform to the best of their abilities in the IENCAP and truly demonstrate the RN competencies they bring with them to Canada.

Further information about this additional stream is available at and to find out more about Ontario educational bridge training and resources for IENs visit: