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New licensure process for nurses coming to Nova Scotia

By Caitlin Snow Mar 16, 2023 | 11:42 AM

Nenad Stojkovic / CC

It’s about to be a lot easier for nurses coming to our province, to start practicing.

Over the next few weeks, for the first time, the Nova Scotia College of Nursing will allow nurses who are in good standing, coming from seven specific countries to only have to pass the entrance exam, to be eligible for a license.

As of May 1, for nurses coming from the Philippines, India, Nigeria, USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand, the licensing process will only take a few weeks. A process that normally takes over a year. Nurses from these countries will apply directly to NSCN.

And for those applying within Canada, the process will only take 24 hours, as opposed to 5 days. This will be effective, March 29.

“I am pleased to share what is truly a first-in-the-country approach to licensing international and Canadian nurses in Nova Scotia,” says Sue Smith, CEO and Registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Nursing. “The new approach will significantly decrease licensing time; increase licensure of nurses; reduce administrative requirements; and is aligned with new initiatives of health care partners. It’s a safe and faster process for nurses who want to work in our province, which is a good news story for all Nova Scotians.”

Over the past five years, applicants from the following five countries account for 87% of all NSCN’s international applicants.
◦ Philippines – 42%
◦ India – 25%
◦ Nigeria – 10%
◦ USA – 6%
◦ UK – 4%
◦ 23 other countries – 13%

· NSCN registered more international nurses in 2022 than in 2019, 2020 and 2021 combined. In 2022, NSCN registered and licensed 282 international nurses as a licensed practical nurse, registered nurse or nurse practitioner.

· Since 2020, NSCN has made changes in key areas:
◦ Adding more options to meet the English language proficiency registration requirement
◦ Providing earlier access to the national registration exam
◦ Authorizing earlier entry to practice
◦ Authorizing earlier return to practice
◦Revised the process so temporary licences for travel nurses coming to NS could be processed in less than one day
◦ Policy and process changes to maximize efficiencies and reduce possible bottlenecks.

“This is great news. We need more nurses across the province, and we need to make it easier for nurses who want to come and build their lives here to get to work quickly,” said Michelle Thompson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “During COVID, the College saw the need, and responded quickly to support patient care. These most recent changes continue on this work and deliver solutions that align with government’s direction to all health system partners in the province to think differently and move quickly.”

All applicants for licensure in Nova Scotia are required to pass the national entry-to-practice exam to demonstrate they can practice safely and competently. They will have the opportunity to enter a practice with a conditional licence while waiting to successfully complete the exam.


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