TORONTO – The surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by Omicron is exacerbating a shortage of nurses in Canadian hospitals. But there are thousands of internationally trained nurses who say they could ease the strain on the health care system if they had the chance to work.
Antonette Licuanan told CTV News: “We can help.
Licuanan was a nurse in the Philippines for seven years before moving to Ontario, but she couldn’t work as a nurse until she completed a lengthy, complicated, and expensive certification process.
“Every country, they have different standards. But (at the same time) … I know for a fact how difficult it is for all the healthcare teams around the world,” she said.
There is good news for some of the internationally trained nurses in Ontario. The province on Tuesday announced that 1,200 of these nurses will be coordinated with hospitals and long-term care homes to address immediate staffing shortages.
But some nurses, even after obtaining the appropriate certification, are still unable to practice due to delays in immigration processing.
Karla Ducusin is a registered nurse in Ontario and previously worked as a nurse in the Philippines for four years. But even if she does have the right qualifications, she is still waiting for immigration officials to process her application for permanent residency, which she filed in October 2020.
“Honestly, I’m very, very frustrated. I see the news, I read in the papers that the nurses are exhausted. The nurses are tired. They’re exhausted from working overtime,” she said. with CTV News. “We’re here. We can help.”
Ducusin worked hard to get her nursing credential in Ontario, a process that drained all of her savings. But pandemic-related delays in immigration processing have continued to leave her in limbo.
“With immigration paperwork, I don’t have it. I’m abandoned. It feels like my life has stalled. I just wait and wait and nothing happens. It’s very frustrating,” she said. speak.
Nurse shortages were a pre-pandemic problem. But the rise of the Omicron variant has led to an increase in infections among nurses, who will be quarantined and unable to work. On top of that, hospital admissions and ICU admissions are on the rise, placing additional strain on the healthcare system.
“Things are likely…even worse than they are now and we are not in a good shape,” said Morgan Hoffarth, president of the Ontario Association of Registered Nurses.
The association says there are about 15,000 internationally trained nurses in the province who do not practice in their fields, although they may be.
“That’s a huge number and it would make a huge difference to helping our healthcare system,” Hoffarth said.
“For the next four to six weeks. We need help. We need the agencies. We need to fast-track the registration and work permits for internationally trained nurses.”
It’s a similar story on the West Coast. BC Nurses’ Union also wants to see the certification process simplified for internationally trained nurses.
Danette Thomsen, interim vice president of the union, told CTV News: “There are so many nurses in BC who are internationally trained nurses and it is very expensive to overcome barriers and licensing bans. Red. “It’s an untapped resource.”
Even before earning all the right certifications, Thomsen says nurses like Licuanan could be brought in now to do nonessential work and ease the burden on other nurses.
“Our nurses are saying that their patient load is two to two and a half times heavier than usual,” says Thomsen.