Internationally Educated Nurses (IEN) and new immigrants undergo a different process to become a nurse in Quebec. Unlike other Canadian provinces, Quebec doesn’t use NNAS and NCLEX in evaluating IENs.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Become a Nurse in Quebec for IENs

1. Open a file with OIIQ

The Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (OIIQ) is the nursing regulatory body in Quebec. Before anything else, you should open a file with them.

After opening a file, you will receive an access link to the forms required to be filled up by your nursing school, previous nursing work experience and the regulatory body where you last had your nursing license. Each form should be mailed directly to OIIQ by the institutions that filled them up.

After several months, the order will send you a letter about the next steps to do. Usually, they require the following among internationally educated nurses:

  • 6-month bridging program in a French or English college
  • 30 days internship
  • Shorter internship period in a specialized clinical area

2. Comply with the requirements

After receiving the decision letter, you should comply with the requirements as soon as possible. A popular choice among IENs and immigrants is the 6-month bridging program in an English college.

Currently, the only English college that offers the 6-month bridging program is the John Abbott College. Before application, aspiring students should attend the school’s information session. After this, they will be eligible to open an application with the school.

There is a long waiting-list for admission of students so the school may have additional requirements like providing evidence of French language proficiency.

30 days internship and shorter internship period are not as popular as the 6-month bridging program because the hospitals affiliated with these internships are in the French sector.

3. Take the OIIQ Exam

Once you are done with the bridging program or internships, you will be eligible to take the OIIQ Exam. The exam is equivalent to NCLEX in other provinces. You need to successfully pass the exam to register and become a nurse in Quebec.

Students can only take the OIIQ exam 3 times. If they fail the exam three times, refresher courses are usually mandatory. In some cases, the order is also advising the student to consider exploring other careers.

4. Submit proof of French language proficiency

After passing the OIIQ exam, you can get a temporary license to practice. Within three years, you need to submit a proof of French language proficiency to the Order.

In general, there are two popular ways of meeting this requirement – take the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) exam or get a Quebec highschool diploma.

The OQLF exam is a test for evaluation of French language proficiency. OQLF is part of the government so there is no fee to take the exam. It’s similar to IELTS since it’s also a four-part test:

  • Reading
  • Listening and Speaking in a group activity
  • Writing
  • Listening and Speaking in a one-on-one interview

The OQLF exam is a progressive test so if you fail one part of the test, you cannot proceed to the next part and you have to start from the beginning again. You can take the exam many times if you fail but you need to wait three months between each retake.

Another way of submitting proof of French language proficiency is by obtaining a Quebec highschool diploma. It’s a small loophole in the requirements; by having a Quebec highschool diploma, it automatically qualifies you as french-proficient. You can obtain the diploma from an English adult school via distance learning. They only require level 5 French aside from English, Math, Computer and History.

Is it attainable to become a nurse in Quebec?

The biggest challenge most IEN face in becoming a nurse in Quebec is the french language. However, it is still attainable even though your knowledge of French is not fluent-level. You can choose to work in the English sector hospitals and healthcare institutions where patients are mostly anglophones and endorsements are done in English. Otherwise, consider becoming a nurse in other Canadian provinces.