In the late 1990′s, a group of health and social service agencies noticed a disturbing trend: a high number of internationally educated nurses who had immigrated to Ontario were unable to practice their profession because of significant barriers in meeting registration requirements for registered nurses and registered practical nurses in Ontario. Seed money to study the problem further was provided by the Maytree Foundation.
In 2001, funding for a project called CARE (Creating Access to Regulated Employment) for Nurses is announced by the provincial Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities. The purpose of this pilot project was to develop, implement and evaluate a sustainable bridge training program for internationally educated nurses living in Ontario. This program was aimed at increasing access to the nursing profession for this group of highly skilled nurses already living in Ontario. The partnership that gave rise to the program consisted of: St. Michael’s Hospital, Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care, Kababayan Community Centre and WoodGreen Community Services. Helping and advising this group were other organizations including the College of Nurses (CNO), the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO), the Ontario Nurses Association (ONA) and the Nursing Secretariat.
CARE Centre for IENs first opened its doors to clients in the fall of 2001 (Under the name CARE for Nurses). Right from the start, there was a huge demand for the courses and support services being offered. The goal of the program was clear. CARE Centre for IENs was going to double the success rate for internationally educated nurses writing the registration exam from 33% to 66%.
Although an ambitious target, by the end of the 2003, over 200 nurses had signed up for the CARE Centre program and successfully passed the registration exam. Because of this success, the Government of Ontario extended CARE Centre’s funding in 2003. CARE Centre for IENs registered as an incorporated organization and is now officially CARE Centre for Internationally Educated Nurses. The mission of Centre Centre is to enable internationally educated nurses to practice and excel in their chosen profession in the shortest time possible. CARE Centre continues to be a multi-partner initiative that invents, coordinates and delivers flexible, client focused education and support services.
CARE Centre continues to evolve and adapt to the needs of internationally educated nurses amidst changes in the entry to practice requirements. Services offered to the community of internationally educated nurses have expanded and improved. In November, 2004, the Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities announced expanded funding for CARE Centre. CARE Centre opened an office in Hamilton, Ontario in 2005 and we continue to expand and grow. Today we also provide services in Windsor, London, Peel Region (Brampton) and Kingston, serving the wider catchment areas and communities.
Since the fall of 2001, CARE Centre has served over 1,000 internationally educated nurses representing over 140 countries. These nurses are now working within the health care system in Ontario and bringing insight and experience that has helped various health care institutions serve an increasingly diverse community.