Internationally Educated Health Care Professionals
Are you an Internationally Educated Health Care Professional?
With your existing education and experience, you may be eligible for registration as a Health Care Assistant in BC.
Within months, you could be earning pay and benefits as you build a healthcare career in Canada.
The advantages of becoming an HCA include providing person-centred care as part of a team, networking with other health care professionals, learning about organizational structures, deepening your professional values, and increasing your proficiency with healthcare language and terminology in Canadian practice environments.
Find out what people say about starting their new career in British Columbia.
Pathways to Registration
Consider integrating into the Canadian healthcare workforce more quickly as a Health Care Assistant.
There are several financial support options available through Health Match BC to help you with costs associated with the registration pathway you choose.
- HCA Competency Assessment Pathway Bursaries (NCAS & Remedial Education)
- HCAP Pre-Requisite Stipend
- HCA Recruitment Incentive
- HCA Training Program – BC Care Providers Association provides free training at select post-secondary institutions for participants who are unemployed, precariously employed, or employed but requiring upskilling
Financial supports outside of Health Match BC include:
- Career Paths for Skilled Immigrants Program helps newcomers living in BC build an action plan to navigate the system, receive financial support to assess credentials, and upgrade skills. Apply here
- Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) offers fully funded Health Care Assistant Programs for individuals on EI, EI Reachback or WorkBC attached
- Windmill Microlending offers low-interest loans of up to $15,000 to help skilled immigrants start their careers
- Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) H.E.T. Program offers loans up to $15,000 to cover costs of credentialing
- Global Talent Loans Program (ISSBC) provides financial support for re-credentialing or retraining
- DIVERSEcity microloan programs (VanCity) offers microloans of up to $10,000 to attain Canadian certification
- With These Hands Loan can fund tools or equipment needed to enter the labour market
- Back to Work Loan helps support upgrading your qualifications or certification
- StudentAidBC helps with costs of post-secondary education through student loans, grants, and scholarships
Completing a full HCA program at a recognized post-secondary institution may be beneficial to learning how the Canadian healthcare system works and for gaining hands-on experience during clinical placements.
To be admitted to an HCA program, you must demonstrate that you meet the BC HCA Program English Language Competency Requirements.
English Language Proficiency Tests Info Sheet – Find out about testing centres for HCA program entry.
If English is not your first language, you may wish to explore HCA ESL programs, which include additional English language training. Browse all the recognized institutions offering the HCA program across British Columbia on our Education page.
While you are in the process of getting your credentials recognized, you can put your training and experience to immediate use. Your skills, such as the ability to work well with others, good communication skills, patience, compassion, and experience assisting the elderly in daily living activities, are needed in a variety of employment or volunteer opportunities. Below are some examples of positions you might explore, depending on your experience.
Hospital Porter, Dialysis Technician, Unit Clerk, Housekeeper, Screener/Greeter*
Long-Term Care Homes / Assisted Living Residences
Housekeeper, Food Server, Laundry Attendant, Dietary Aide, Cook, Health Care Support Worker, Screener/Greeter*
Private in-home Caregiver, Home Health Companion, Health Care Support Worker
Community Support Worker, Mental Health Worker, Doula, Contact Tracer*, Visitation Support Worker*
*Jobs emerging during the pandemic
Internationally Educated Nurses
If you are an internationally educated nurse, you may be eligible to start your healthcare career in Canada as a Health Care Assistant while you are re-credentialing to practise as a nurse. The following institutions offer bridging programs.
- Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Return to Registered Nurse Practice Certificate requirements include 1,600 hours working as an HCA or LPN in the Canadian healthcare system.
- Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Graduate Nurse, Internationally Educated Re-entry (GNIE) requirements are determined based on NCAS results. You may be required to take Nurse Ready and Evolve, and include a proof of English proficiency (typically IELTS).
Visit British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives (BCCNM) for a complete list of recognized nursing programs in BC.
Join the Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) in BC Facebook Group to connect with other IENs and share resources.
Internationally Educated Health Care Professionals FAQ
What are the advantages of registering as a Health Care Assistant for internationally educated nurses (IENs)?
You will gain valuable Canadian healthcare experience, working as an HCA. You can also keep your skills in practice, access a comprehensive salary and benefits package while building seniority with an employer, and accumulate work hours to improve your eligibility for bridging programs if you wish to become registered as a nurse in BC.
What are the HCA registration requirements for internationally educated nurses?
Nurses educated outside of Canada and not licenced to practice in Canada must apply to register as Internationally Educated Health Care Professionals. For more information on registration requirements, click here.
What is the registration pathway for internationally educated health care professionals (including IENs)?
Depending on your background, there are several pathways to becoming a registered HCA. If you have previous HCA or health-related education completed outside of BC, you may be eligible to complete a competency assessment to confirm that you meet BC HCA Core Competencies.
Another option is to complete a recognized BC HCA education program (approximately seven months). You can find more information on the pathways to registration for internationally educated nurses here.
Is there financial support to assist with expenses related to re-credentialing?
Yes, there are several financial assistance options that you may be able to access, depending on your eligibility. Please visit our Bursaries & Stipends page.
What bridging education programs exist in BC for internationally educated nurses?
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Return to Registered Nurse Practice Certificate and Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) Graduate Nurse, Internationally Educated Re-entry (GNIE). Visit the websites for admission requirements and the application process.
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