All that Lia Musetti wanted was to be a Registered Nurse in Ontario. But she was convinced it would never, ever happen.
The 49-year-old RN from Sao Paulo, Brazil immigrated to Toronto in 1996 and, on at least three occasions, ordered a package from the College of Nurses of Ontario about how to upgrade her education.
Every time, she would look at the pile of papers and shake her head dismally.
“It seemed hard, almost impossible.”
Then in 2004, Musetti decided she had to get back into nursing and signed up for a two-year Registered Practical Nursing program at George Brown College.
But after two years of practising, she realized her heart wasn’t in it — she wanted to be an RN.
She mustered the courage and finally started the process to get her license in Ontario.
It wasn’t easy: the College of Nurses wanted her to take 17 credits. Musetti was on the verge of giving up on her dream forever when she heard about the Creating Access to Regulated Employment, better known by its acronym CARE.
In the end, she took three credits and was helped with exam preparation.
Within months, she had cleared all her exams and now works for St. Elizabeth Healthcare as a community nurse.
“I love it and I couldn’t have done it without CARE,” she says.
Almost 10 per cent of the province’s registered nurses and practical nurses received their initial training outside Canada.
CARE was launched in 2001 to help them get accredited to work here.
Initially funded through a grant from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, it now receives money from the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.*
“CARE provides support to international nurses who immigrate to Ontario and want to pursue the profession,” explains Zubeida Ramji, executive director of the organization.
Most have a lot of experience but they have to go through a regulatory process and meet requirements of the College of Nurses.
“CARE helps navigate the system so that these internationally educated nurses have greater chances of becoming successful in a reasonable period of time,” says Ramji.
The amount of time it takes the nurses to get licensed in Ontario depends on their nursing education and experience.
“CARE doesn’t have any control over that,” says Ramji.
The college does the assessment and tells them what they need to do.
Some complete the process in as few as four months, but most take about 18 to 20 months.
Correction: May 10, 12:17 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that CARE was funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Metro regrets the error.