3 skills internationally-educated nurses (IENs) need to thrive in the Canadian health care job market

Published May 8, 2023.

Estimated reading time: 2.5 minutes

In summary:

  • Internationally-educated nurses (IENs) continue to be in high demand across the Canadian health care system. 

  • With the right combination of education, training, and specialized skills, IENs can find expanding career opportunities in a range of nursing specialties, including gerontology, critical care and mental health. 

  • IENs who showcase skills like technological adeptness and flexibility navigating changing workplace conditions will find success in the Canadian nursing job market. 

Internationally-educated nurses (IENs) continue to be in high demand across the Canadian health care system, as the country's aging population and growing healthcare needs require more qualified professionals. Despite this demand, many IENs face significant barriers to certification and licensure, as well as to entering the Canadian job market. For those seeking to launch their nursing careers in Canada, these challenges can be costly, time-consuming, and frustrating.

According to recent statistics, there are currently over 60,000 IENs seeking nursing career opportunities in Canada. This number continues to grow, as more and more nurses from around the world look to immigrate to Canada and fill the country's healthcare needs. However, the process of becoming certified and licensed to work as a nurse in Canada can be complex and costly, requiring extensive education and training, language proficiency testing, and significant amounts of time and money. 

Want to better understand the Canadian licensing process for nurses? Read our recent blog post. 

Once certified and licensed, IENs may also face barriers to entering the Canadian job market, such as a lack of familiarity with Canadian healthcare practices, difficulties with cultural adaptation, and challenges in finding employment in their desired specialty or location. Despite these obstacles, there are still many opportunities for IENs with in-demand skills to succeed in the Canadian healthcare job market. 

With the right combination of education, training, and specialized skills, IENs can find expanding career opportunities in a range of nursing specialties, including gerontology, critical care, and mental health. Additionally, many healthcare employers in Canada are actively seeking to diversify their workforce and are looking to hire individuals with a range of backgrounds and perspectives. By leveraging their existing skills and experience, IENs can position themselves as valuable assets to the Canadian healthcare system and find fulfilling career opportunities in their new home country. 

According to Rola El Moubadder, an IEN, originally from Dubai, who successfully obtained her Canadian nursing certification, one way internationally-educated nurses can find professional success, in Canada’s health care system, is to highlight their skills and knowledge. El Moubadder is currently a Program Manager at Toronto’s CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses, created in 2001 to address the nursing labour gap in Ontario’s health care sector. The CARE Centre offers a number bridging programs to help IENs complete the licensure process and reach their career goals in Canada.  

Rola El Moubadder headshot

Rola El Moubadder (pictured) of the CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses says IENs who demonstrate flexibility, agility and technology proficiency can find career success in the Canadian health care system.

Moubadder has more than 20 years of experience as a nurse educator, let alone her lived experience as an IEN and skilled immigrant to Canada. The Windmill Microlending blog asked El Moubadder to share three skills IENs can leverage to compete, differentiate themselves and succeed in the Canadian health care job market. Here’s what she told us. 

Nursing Skill #1: Flexibility 

Rola says: Learn as much as you can about the Canadian nursing licensing/certification process and start that process as far in advance of your arrival to Canada as possible. The process can be very complex, and sometimes, frustrating for internationally-educated nurses (IENs) but these steps are necessary to obtain registration and to relaunch your nursing career in Canada. That’s why you’ll need to hone your skills of flexibility and patience. Understand that the process takes time, worry about the steps that are within your control.  

The CARE Centre team can help you navigate the Canadian credentialing assessment process. We can support you in meeting the regulatory requirements, enhancing your skills for Canadian workforce integration, help you build your professional network in Canada and facilitate a smooth transition into the Canadian health sector.  

If you are an internationally-educated nurse (IEN) looking to learn more about the steps needed to become licensed to work in Canada, visit Windmill’s Educational Pathways.     

Remind yourself that your diverse education and clinical expertise can be relevant and transferable to many Canadian nursing roles that you have not yet considered. Explore opportunities in community or long-term care settings. Have an open mind to different career possibilities as you pursue your Canadian career goals.  

Nursing Skill #2: Agility 

Rola says: Canadian employers value the skills and talents that IENs bring and are eager for nurses who can adapt to the country’s nursing standards of practice, cultural norms and ever-changing health landscape. Your ability to be agile, to navigate new working conditions, workplace expectations and collaborate with colleagues will test your agility but you can rise to the challenge. There are some concepts that may be unfamiliar to you going into practice in Canada, for the first time, such as the scope of practice and role of a nurse within the interprofessional team. Nurses’ clinical judgment and critical decisions throughout care planning are highly valued. Demonstrate your agility by adapting to these changes with patience, humility and grace. It can be done. 

HubSpot Video

WATCH: Rola El Moubadder, Program Manager at Toronto’s CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses highlights three skills that can help IENs thrive in the Canadian health care job market. 

Nursing Skill #3: Technological proficiency 

Rola says: There is such a wide diversity of nursing roles and specializations for IENs to consider exploring in Canada. These will open exciting new career opportunities for you. You’ll also be exposed to emerging health care technologies that capture real-time patient-related data enabling you to proactively provide the care they need and spot issues before they develop. Becoming a member of the Canadian Nurses Association grants you access to professional development training courses, including 23 diverse clinical specialization certificates.  

Professional development opportunities can help you become familiarized with latest smart technologies being used in Canadian health care settings. Your knowledge and skills using these technologies can help you differentiate yourself and advance in your nursing career in Canada. 

Are you an internationally-educated nurse (IEN), living in Canada, who needs funds to pay for your Canadian accreditation or nursing licensing process? Over 95% of eligible newcomers are approved for a Windmill Microlending loan of up to $15,000. No Canadian credit history required. Start your application today.

Categorized in: Career Success and Planning, Accreditation and Licensing, A Newcomer's Journey, In-demand Jobs,