PEARL 2013: Red River College - Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Nurses (BPIEN)

Left to right: D'Arcy Phillips (MPLAN), Catherine Baxter (RRC Nursing Chair), Kathryn Braun (RRC Nursing Instructor), Lauren Waples (RRC RPL Advisor) and Carol Girling (RRC Registrar)

The MPLAN PEARL Award is given for the Pursuit of Excellence in the Assessment and Recognition of prior Learning. (More about the PEARL Award)

Background for this Award

Increasing numbers of internationally educated nurses are immigrating to Manitoba intending to practice as registered nurses. Applicants register with the College of Registered Nurses in Manitoba and go through an assessment process to determine “competency to practice”. Eligible applicants are approved “for exam eligibility” and are required to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam (CRNE) within one year. The success rate for eligible applicants has been very limited. This has restricted potentially able and competent registered nurses from practicing in Manitoba.

Pursuit of Excellence

To address this problem, Red River College developed and piloted the Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Nurses (BPIEN) with financial and other supports from a number of government bodies (Please see Acknowledgments, below). The program has three levels which include language development, delivery of customized course content and supervised clinical practice.

The program is customized to identify and meet individual needs. Through an RPL competence assessment administered through the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba (CRNM), eligible students are assessed to determine appropriate placement in the program. Instead of requiring individuals to repeat or relearn knowledge and skills, individuals go through this assessment process which includes academic qualifications and credentials as well as the Competency assessment. Based on the results, customized education is provided. The customized courses address the areas of identified deficiency. Individuals do not retake or relearn content from the areas where competence had been determined.

The BPIEN program has moved beyond the “pilot program” stage and has become an ongoing program offered at Red River College. It provides support and targeted curriculum to address the deficiency of knowledge and skills required to successfully complete the CRNM exam. This leads to increased levels of competency and self confidence which increases the likelihood of success in becoming a registered nurse in Manitoba. (See results Achieved, below.) On a personal level, the professional status of being a registered nurse, as well as the professional wage earned, enhances the lifestyle of individuals and families. For the community, this increases the number of competent and practicing registered nurses in Manitoba.

Results Achieved

The BPIEN program accepts 44 students per year which includes 2 intakes each of 22 students. There has been an increase in success rates for internationally educated applicants writing the CRNE exams. In the three most recent BPIEN classes before the PEARL Award was received students had achieved success rates of 95%.


The following organisations provided and /or continue to provide essential support to the BPIEN Program: Human Resources and Skills Development Canada; Manitoba Labour Market Strategy for Immigrants; Manitoba Advanced Education and Literacy; Manitoba Council on Post Secondary Education; Health Science Centre Assessment Centre; Health Canada.