Can you please tell me about the SEC?

Hi Everyone,
This is my first time in this forum. This is really very informative forum. I need to ask if anyone knows about
SECassessment. Please I need some help and also anyone knows about the assessment dates.
Thank you . Narmeen18 from

This question and many others like it motivated Janfrn, a staff member of to write a detailed description of the Substantially Equivalent Competence (SEC) assessments She does a good job of answering the following questions:

1. What is a Substantially Equivalent Competence assessment?
2. I’ve already submitted all my paperwork to the College of Nursing but now they’re telling me I need SEC/CBIA. What’s that about?
3. So just exactly what is involved?
4. Okay, so what’s this “triple jump” business all about?
5. What’s an OSCE?
6. Wow, there are a lot of things they’re going to assess. How long will all this take?
7. Who pays for all this?
8. What do I do if I fail my SEC/CBIA?
9. Will the examiner give me feedback during my assessment and when will I know my results?
10. How do I find out more?

Although this is well researched, there are some additional points explored in this article:

  • The SEC/CBIA and the Licensure Process, and
  • A Word about Financing.

Stages in the Process

The SEC/CBIA is a step in the licensure process of some but not all provincial licensure bodies in Canada. Before this step all of your documentation must be submitted, evaluated and approval will be given to proceed. Almost all Internationally Educated Nurses are required to take the SEC. I have even known nurses from the UK and the US that were required to do so.

The SEC/CBIA is an assessment tool used to evaluate both your knowledge and skills, as compared to a graduating nurse in Canada. The Colleges of Nursing recognize that everyone has a different background in education and experience, and they acknowledge this in the SEC/CBIA. Exams are given to evaluate gaps, and to determine which courses you will have to take to upgrade. In this way the exams you are required to take are a different combination of exams, and can not be compared to other IENs you may know. One IEN may be required to take 2 exams over 2 days, while another may be required to take 5 exams over as many days.

Depending on the results you may be required to take from one to 8 classes. All the IENs I know have had to take some classes: some brief workshops, others full time classes at a college or university, and others may be through distance education (studying modules and doing assignments at home and booking an exam at your leisure at a college/university.)

Save time and money, ensure that you do not take any of these classes before you get permission from your licensure body. I know of an IEN that was deeply troubled by being taken out of a class she had paid and registered for, because she did not have proper documentation from the College of Nurses.

A Word about Financing

May IENs are troubled by the costs of becoming a registered nurse in Canada. It can cost anywhere from $2000-$5000 CND. Although these costs are high, take heart, it is better than it was in the past, and for other professions.

It is only recent that the government has covered the cost of the SEC. I know of many nurses that had to pay out of their own pocket to pay for the exam. At that time there were fewer assessment centres available, so they had to pay for transportation and accommodations for up to five days. In 2009 Mount Royal College opened a new assessment centre in Edmonton Alberta. This alone saves you hundreds even thousands of dollars.

If you still are not feeling good about the whole thing consider this:

  • Internationally Educated Phsyiotherapists do not have an SEC/CBIA or equivalency exam. They are required to write their national exam with Canadian graduates, who are required to have a Master degree.
  • Or consider the Internationally Educated Veterinarians, many who travel to the US to take their exam that costs more than $7000 CND! It is difficult, and it takes time and money, but you do have an easier time than other people in other professions!

Canada is a fair nation: balancing both independence and social values.

For some things you may be subsidized or receive grants, but for others you will be required to pay your own way. So it is for all Canadians.

How do I find out more?

These links were collected by JanFrn of

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