Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) have changed the ways in which they access assessment and bridging programs. At the same time, the healthcare system’s need for IEN integration increased. To explore this conundrum, Touchstone Institute brought a group of engaged stakeholders together to share perspectives, information, and thoughts to foster a better understanding of the current IEN environment. The following is a summary of discussions at the Touchstone Institute IEN Roundtable held on July 27, 2022.
COVID exacerbated the human resources crisis in the healthcare system. IENs have come to the forefront in the media during the crisis, creating new awareness of their potential to contribute to addressing this crisis. Recent initiatives, such as the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP), have been developed during this time offering an excellent opportunity for the IENs who qualify to expediently enter the healthcare system.
The complex registration pathways and challenges with integration in the workforce were common themes arising from participants at the roundtable. Workplace integration is an important next step following registration, and while the SPEP has proven to be a positive intervention for IENs, training supports are needed for SPEP preceptors in the workplace. Career progress, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) challenges, and the intersection of these issues, are particularly concerning for IENs. Social factors such as IENs’ circumstances in family, caregiving, housing, and successful integration outside of employment are essential for success.
Immigration experiences were also identified as challenging for some IENs as pathways entering Canada are not employment driven. A multi-governmental, stratified approach is needed for IENs given the number of levels of government currently involved in their complicated pathways from immigration to registration and beyond.
A collective understanding and engagement with the Ontario registration process as well as a formal recognition of pain points along the pathway could identify partners and programs that must collaborate for more efficiency in IEN entry into the health system. To this end the group discussed the importance of mapping the IEN registration – integration – settlement trajectory, including possible roles, interventions and supports for all involved. A lack of funding for IEN Education is a barrier for IENs. Settlement needs are an additional challenge for IENs to be addressed.
We are not currently operating as a system but rather as individual stakeholders with separate pieces of an incohesive pathway from the IEN perspective. A new coordinated and collaborative system to assist IENs is needed.