Temporary Pandemic Registration Process for Qualified Internationally Educated Nurses
Enabling enhanced service provision during COVID-19 pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has put unprecedented strain on our health system, and has increased demand for qualified registered nurses to bolster our province’s health workforce. At the start of the pandemic, the College worked with the provincial government and health system leaders to enable expedited temporary registration of former RNs, as well as modifying other registration processes to ensure that applicants for registration could meet our registration requirements and contribute to the pandemic response.
While these efforts have helped add to the available workforce of RNs, the College recognizes that additional challenges have emerged due to the pandemic that have hampered the ability of internationally educated nurses (IENs) to access language testing and therefore to meet our language proficiency requirements.
As a result, the College has worked with our partners in government and in the health system to obtain a ministerial order authorizing the College to temporarily waive or modify registration requirements for internationally educated applicants meeting specific criteria. For information on the application process and eligibility requirements, please visit the dedicated application page.
The College understands that IENs who are successful in applying for RN registration in Manitoba are an important part of the health care workforce in Manitoba. They account for approximately 1 in 10 registered nurses currently licensed to work in our province. IENs work in every health region in Manitoba, and work in a variety of contexts including clinical, administrative, research and education.
Our work aims to provide objective, fair, and timely processes to enable qualified IENs to obtain RN registration in Manitoba, and we understand how important that is in relation to the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to work with our partners in government, in regulation, and in the health system to help support the pandemic response in Manitoba within the context of our regulatory mandate.
Frequently Asked Questions
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- Who can apply?
For more information on the application process and eligibility requirements, please visit the dedicated application page,
- How do internationally educated nurses obtain registration as a registered nurse (RN) in Manitoba?
Internationally educated nurses, or IENs, are individuals who completed their nursing education outside of Canada. According to requirements defined in legislation, IENs are eligible for registration as an RN in Manitoba following a prior learning assessment that looks at their education and nursing experience, as well as passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Some IENs may be referred for remedial education, or “bridging,” based on gaps identified in their assessment. For more information, please visit the IEN application page.
- How do regulatory bodies in Canada assess competency for registered nursing practice?
Registered nurses fulfil a variety of important and complex roles in Canada’s health care system. To help set a common understanding and standard for registered nursing practice, all regulatory bodies in Canada contribute to the development of the Entry Level Competencies for the Practice of Registered Nurses (ELCs). The ELCs establish the foundation for registered nursing practice and inform a variety of regulatory purposes, including, but not limited to:
- Academic program approval/recognition;
- Assessment of internationally educated applicants;
- Assessment of applicants for the purpose of re-entry into the profession;
- Reference for professional conduct matters; and
- Public and employer awareness of the practice expectations of registered nurses.
- What are entry-level competencies (ELCs) and how do they inform the assessment of internationally educated applicants?
An entry-level competency is defined as “an observable ability of a registered nurse at entry-level that integrates the knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgment required to practice nursing safely and ethically.” These competencies are expected not only of entry-level RNs, all RNs are ultimately accountable to meet these competencies throughout their careers relative to their area of practice.
Because the entry-level competencies are the same for all registered nurses, IENs are asked to demonstrate how their education and work experience allows them to meet the same entry-level competencies as Canadian educated nursing graduates.
- Why does the College assess IENs’ education and experience?
Our process for assessing the credentials of IENs ensures that we protect and serve the public interest. The public has a right to expect that anyone licensed to practice as an RN in Manitoba is appropriately qualified, and can practice safely, competently, and ethically. Employers and the public should also expect the College has exercised due diligence in providing that assurance. Similarly, applicants for RN registration in Manitoba should expect that our standards and processes are objective, transparent, and contribute to the timely registration of qualified applicants.
Our legislated mandate under The Regulated Health Professions Act and the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba General regulation. Section 2.7 of the General Regulation explicitly lays out requirements, including, but not limited to:
An applicant who completed a nursing education program outside of Canada must:
- Be able to demonstrate that their nursing education program is comparable to a nursing education program in Manitoba;
- Meet the English language proficiency criteria set by the College;
- Complete an approved prior learning assessment, and if required, a course of instruction as a result of the determinations of that assessment process; and
- Have passed the entry-to-practice exam (NCLEX) within the approved time period.
- What makes an applicant’s education and experience comparable to that of a Manitoba graduate? How is it assessed?
The College sets the standards for and approves baccalaureate-level nursing programs in Manitoba (see the Standards for Nursing Education Programs), which ensure that all graduates of Manitoba programs should be able to demonstrate the entry-level competencies required to safely practise as an RN. Their ability to demonstrate those competencies is then further assessed by the entry-to-practise exam, the NCLEX-RN.
For graduates from outside of Manitoba, our policy AA-7: Prior Learning Assessment for Registration in the RN Membership Class provides further interpretation of how we examine both Canadian educated nurses and IENs’ prior learning for purposes of establishing eligibility for registration.
- Are there special requirements that IENs are required to meet?
IENs are required to meet are the same requirements as Manitoba or Canadian educated applicants. There are no special requirements for IENs. However, it is necessary for the College to assess IENs' overall competency for registered nursing practice in Manitoba because of the variability of the nursing education programs and the RN role around the world. Therefore, the way IENs demonstrate they meet the requirements is different.
- How do IENs demonstrate that they meet the registration requirements?
IENs begin the application process by opening a file with the National Nurse Assessment Service (NNAS). Once IEN applicants have completed the NNAS process, the NNAS sends and advisory report and documentation to the College. We review that report and academic documentation against the Standards for Nursing Education Programs, which the College sets for baccalaureate-level nursing programs in Manitoba. An IEN’s nursing education is deemed to be comparable if there is evidence of:
- A minimum of two years of post-secondary nursing education that includes theoretical instruction along the health continuum and which includes providing care to people of all ages, genders, in a variety of settings; and
- The nursing program included a minimum of 1,450 clinical practice hours (not including laboratory or clinical simulation) as per the Standards for Nursing Education Programs. or
- The nursing program included a number of clinical practice hours (not including laboratory or clinical simulation) that, when combined with the applicant’s verified RN practice hours post-graduation, equal a minimum of 1,450 hours
IF an IEN’s education is deemed to be comparable, they may then be referred to do a Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA).
For more information on the IEN application process, click here to access the IEN Handbook.
- What is the Clinical Competence Assessment and how does it work?
The Clinical Competence Assessment (CCA) provides nurses the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and judgement in practice. It is an examination used to assess an individual’s practice for gaps in their ability to meet the Entry-Level Competencies for Registered Nurses in Manitoba.
For a detailed overview of the CCA, please see the CCA Candidate Guide.
- Why is a ministerial order required?
A ministerial order is required when a change in how the legislation or regulations are applied or interpreted. In this case, a ministerial order was required to authorize the College to temporarily waive or modify registration requirements for internationally educated applicants meeting specific criteria.
- Why are English language proficiency tests considered valid for two years?
The period of test validity is set by the testing providers. Both CELBAN and IELTS will only assure the validity of the results for two (2) years. The standards for registered nurses’ CELBAN and IELTS test scores are set nationally, and the College recognizes that an appropriate level of English language proficiency as a part of communication is essential to safe, competent registered nursing practice. Click here for more information approved language tests.
- If an internationally educated nurse establishes registration in another province or territory, and then is applying for registration in Manitoba, do they need to go through the same process?
IENs who establish registration in another province or territory are considered Canadian applicants, and would be subject to the same requirements as any Canadian applicant coming from another jurisdiction in the country. Read more about the application process for Canadian RN applicants and the Registration Requirements practice direction.