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Nurses who earned their degrees outside Canada

If you earned a degree in a country other than Canada or France, you are required to apply to have the equivalence of your degree or training recognized.

Here is everything you need to know before you start the process of applying for a permit.

I want to settle in Quebec

 

More than 78,000 competent and caring nurses inspire confidence as they work to provide the best possible health care for Quebecers.

Job prospects for nurses are plentiful and diversified in every region of Quebec.

 
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In Quebec, the professional system is regulated by the Professional Code.

All professionals are overseen by an order whose primary mission is to protect the public. Everyone who wishes to practice as a nurse in Quebec is therefore required to be a member of the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ).

Since the profession of nursing is regulated, “nurse” is a reserved title. Non-members of the OIIQ may not use the title or give people to understand that they are members by using the title. The professional title is intended to inform the public of the nature of services offered, while serving as a warrant of competence, confirming that members of the profession meet the criteria of the professional order that oversees the profession.

Every year, the OIIQ produces statistics on the nursing workforce and the next generation of nurses in Quebec for all 17 administrative regions. Please see the overview to learn more about the profile of the profession.

 

What do I need to know about the nursing profession in Quebec?

 

Nurses in Quebec practise a demanding profession, working closely with other professionals.

Members of the profession are expected to show excellent clinical judgment, keep up with the latest information in the field, and have sufficient knowledge of French to practise in that language.

 
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The framework for the nursing profession is the Nurses Act, which describes the field of practice and the 17 activities reserved for the nursing profession.

Depending on the practice site, nurses need to work closely with other health-care professionals. The caregiving team may include physicians, nursing assistants and personal care attendants.

The Office québécois de la langue française requires professionals to have an appropriate knowledge of French so that they can practise their profession in that language. Anyone who wishes to obtain a practice permit is required to take an exam to evaluate their knowledge of French unless they meet certain criteria listed in section 35 of the Charter of the French Language.

There are some resources available to help you perfect your French-language skills, such as the exercises in piqûre du français and the French lessons offered by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration.

 

Do my experience and training meet the expected criteria for level of expertise?

 

Find out whether your profile corresponds to the level of expertise required for nurses in Quebec or is the equivalent of the level for a nursing assistant by filling in the self-evaluation form.

You will then be able to make an informed decision and take the first steps with the appropriate professional order.

 
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Those who hold a degree or underwent training in the field of health care outside Canada or France are required to apply for recognition of equivalence of their degree or training

The OIIQ’s Admission by Equivalence Committee is responsible for recognizing the equivalence of degrees granted by teaching institutions outside Canada or nursing training outside Canada. Being granted recognition of the equivalence of the degree or training means that the person’s knowledge and skills are similar to those of a nurse who studied in Quebec.

Admission by equivalence is not the only way to become a nurse in Quebec. You can also:

Counselors from Qualification Québec can also provide free guidance on appropriate resources and services you can use to have your training and skills recognized.

 

What steps should I take to apply for admission by equivalence?

 

Start by opening your account online.

Open an account

You will then be sent an email with an access code so that you can connect to the secure platform and start the application process.

 
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An application for admission by equivalence from the OIIQ costs about $750 CAD. Additional charges apply for the Comparative evaluation for studies done outside Quebec issued by the Ministère de l’Immigration, de la Francisation et de l’Intégration, to obtain official documents from the authorities in your country of origin, and to have those documents translated if necessary. Further details on how to put together your file will be provided when you open your account.

Loan programs provided by non-profit organizations to foreign-trained professionals are available. Ask them about it. Under certain conditions, they may help you secure funding to cover some costs.

 

What documents do I need to provide?

 

To apply for recognition of the equivalence of your degree or training, you are required to provide several documents. You will also be asked to fill in the comparison grid showing nursing activities in Quebec compared with your training and professional experience.

In addition, every teaching institution, regulatory body and employer is required to fill in an attestation  for your file and return it to you.

Forms and attestations can be viewed here.

 
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You are required to provide a copy of your birth certificate, as well as a copy of your marriage certificate if you changed your birth name when you got married.

In general, the appropriate organizations are also required to send you documents in regards to :

The documents that are written in a language other than French or English need to be translated by a translator certified in Quebec or recognized by the authorities in the country where the translation was done. The OIIQ will decide what needs to be translated and will contact you if necessary.

 

What is the process for analyzing my file?

 

The file will be considered to be complete once the OIIQ has received and checked the required documents.

We may ask you to take a diagnostic test or attend an interview if we require further details on your nursing practice in your country of origin.

 
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The handling process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the number and nature of files we receive.

The diagnostic test is intended to show whether your training as a nurse was similar to that of a nurse in Québec. There is no pass mark, and you can’t fail the test. It simply gives the committee information on your nursing practice in your country of origin. You may also be asked to attend an interview, in person or by videoconference. Here again, the purpose is to validate the type of nursing you have practised.

 

What are the possible decisions?

 

The Admission by Equivalence Committee (AEC) has a mandate to study and decide upon all requests for recognition of the equivalence of degrees or training.

Every file is studied on the basis of degrees and training, additional training and professional experience.

 
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All nurses who earned their degrees outside Canada are required to complete a professional integration program in the Quebec context of practice. The modalities may vary depending on the AEC’s analysis of the file.

The program is intended to:  

  • familiarize nurses with the Quebec context of practice in professional, legal, ethical, organization and sociocultural terms;
  • help nurses adapt their existing skills to enable them to practise nursing in Quebec;
  • demonstrate the essential clinical skills nurses need to practise safely and efficiently in a Quebec setting.

Depending on the analysis of the file, the professional integration program may take place in a clinical setting or at an educational institution.

The AEC may also ask the nurse to take certain courses or take the initial training to practise nursing in Quebec. 

If you are not satisfied with the way your request for equivalence or review is handled, you may appeal to the commissioner for admission to the professions.

 

How is the professional integration program conducted?

 

The professional integration program (PIP) in a clinical setting generally takes place in a hospital. You will therefore need to find a hospital that is willing to hire you and provide guidance during your PIP.

Concerning the program at an educational institution, you will be sent a list of colleges that offer training. 

 
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It is your responsibility to find the institution where you would like to do your PIP, either a clinical setting or an educational institution.

Recrutement Santé Québec may be able to help with your professional integration.  

In any case, you will need to hold a registration certificate issued by the OIIQ and pay a fee of about $225 CAD to do your professional integration program.

Please note that your immigration status (visitor, resident, citizen, etc.) may have an impact on the conduct of the professional integration program. We ask you to contact the appropriate authorities.

Once the OIIQ sees that you have successfully completed the professional integration program and has recognized your equivalence, you will be granted the status of candidate for the profession of nursing. You will then be able to work under that title until you pass the professional examination. This temporary status gives you the privilege of practising some of the activities reserved for nurses under certain conditions.

 

What is the examination set by the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec?

 

The OIIQ’s professional examination, which is mandatory for all candidates, determines whether you are competent to practise the profession of nursing.

It is designed to evaluate the knowledge, skills and judgment needed to handle clinical situations that are similar to those encountered in everyday nursing practice in Quebec.  

 
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The professional exam is a written test that includes 135 to 150 multiple-choice questions based on 45 to 50 clinical situations. There are various ways to prepare for the exam, such as a preparation guide and video capsules.

The OIIQ holds two sessions of the exam every year, in the fall and winter. You must take the exam once you receive the notice. Any absence without a valid reason is considered a failure. Once the CPN status has been granted, you have three tries within two years to pass the professional exam.

The registration fee for the professional exam is about $610 CAD.

 

What happens after I obtain my permit?

 

The permit alone is not enough to let you practise nursing and use the title.

You are required to be entered on the Roll of the OIIQ every year.

 
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To be entered on the Roll of the OIIQ, you must complete a declaration and pay the fees (about $465 CAD). You must renew your entry every year to remain a member in good standing of the OIIQ, practise nursing and be entitled to use the title.

 

What about the French exam?

 

The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) requires that everyone who belongs to a professional order has a sufficient knowledge of the French language.

 
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While waiting to pass the French exam, it is possible to ask the OIIQ to issue a temporary permit to a person who earned her degree outside Quebec and has been declared competent to practise nursing in Quebec.

 

Contact us

To learn more about the steps to follow to practise nursing in Quebec, contact us at equivalence-br@oiiq.org.