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CNO helps international applicants fill gap in meeting education requirement for nursing registration

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) protects the public through by promoting of safe nursing practice. A key part of this work is the registration of nurses, whether educated in Ontario or internationally who have the knowledge, skill and judgment to practice safely in Ontario.

As part of our ongoing efforts to register as many nurses as possible, CNO is collaborating with Ontario colleges and universities to make important information about competency-based nursing education programs and courses more readily available to applicants.

“There are approximately 6,000 total active internationally educated nursing applicants who are not already registered with CNO, residing in Ontario, and about 2,000 have not met the education requirement,” says Carol Timmings, acting Executive Director and CEO of CNO. “Getting this information to applicants directly will help reduce a barrier to registration and ensure more nurses can practice safely in Ontario.”

When CNO assesses potential nurses, public safety is of paramount importance. Before registering with CNO, internationally educated applicants must show they have completed nursing education at a level equivalent to Ontario nursing education programs. Applicants with gaps in their nursing knowledge, skill and judgment need to complete additional education. When an applicant has a gap in their education, CNO will direct them to the programs or courses that will help them meet their educational requirements for registration. The programs and courses are also posted on cno.org.

The courses and programs CNO identifies include a description of the entry-level competencies the course teaches, so that applicants can make informed decisions and enroll in courses that meet their individual learning needs.

“By recommending specific programs and courses and making this information public on cno.org, applicants will be able to better identify the courses they need to complete to meet their outstanding learning needs and practice nursing in Ontario without additional delays,” adds Timmings.

To qualify as a gap-filler program, CNO completes a comprehensive review of the school’s program curriculum. This includes identifying whether the program or course provides an opportunity for the applicant to obtain the knowledge, demonstrate application and evaluation of each competency addressed in the course.

St. Francis Xavier University is one of several schools with courses tailored to meet the needs of internationally educated applicants. “As a national leader in the preparation and ongoing professional development of nurses, St. Francis Xavier University (StFX) is thrilled to be able to partner with the CNO, to provide course work for internationally educated nurses (IENs),” says Fred Allen, StFX Program Manager, Distance Nursing Programs, Department of Continuing & Distance Education.

“To date, over 2,000 IENs have participated in our programming, to help qualify them to complete their licensing exams and achieve registration in Ontario. At a critical moment in our healthcare history, StFX prides itself in our partnership with CNO and is committed to our role in expanding nursing capacity for the health care system across Canada.”

CNO is seeing growth in registrations of internationally educated applicants through modernizing our  application processes. As of July 31, 2022, the number of new internationally educated registrants reached 4,728 — surpassing the total number registered in 2021.

CNO continues its focus on education by engaging with partners across health care, government and academia to find a longer-term solution to help internationally educated applicants access the education they need to meet this registration requirement.

Visit CNO’s trending topics on Modernizing Applicant Assessments to keep up to date on these changes.




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Page last reviewed August 15, 2022