2G* I need resources to prepare for the SEC

Updated 2021

Dear Kim :

thank you for the time you and effort you spend assisting nurses, i have few questions am an RN in my country(jordan) for the past 17 years and a Canadian immigrant am due to set for my SEC assessment on the 23/24th July, in medical surgical…. on the other hand am a bit lost on what resources to use preparing for the OSCE, TJ and CJ.
I have books and am using the website but its one set of examples every time i search, can you guide me please :)

thank you again,

hope to hear from you soon,

kind regards,


REPOSTED from a comment

Dear Sumoud,

Thank you so much for your question. At first I was pleased, then I felt regret wishing it did not take so much time and energy to create what I have created for the CELBAN. It has taken me 5 years to create CELBANPrep, 3 years to create and perfect it through 5 online versions. Yet each day, as I worked on CELBANPrep I knew that there were people like you preparing for the SEC. Do I have resources? I do, but they are all in my head and will take some time to create. So where you thank me for the time and effort I have spent assisting nurses, your question identified the limit for what I have created… filling me with more desire and ambition to continue on my path to create more even resources. So thank you for reminding me that I still have work to do.

At the same time I want to congratulate you on making it past the English Proficiency exam. I hope you celebrated that landmark! Also congratulations for your SEC seat… that you only have to write one part. This speaks greatly of your experience and knowledge.

Let me tell you what I do know about the SEC, the Substantially Equivalent Competency Assessment required by some but not all nursinc licensure and regulatory bodies in Canada.

  • It is important to note that the SEC is unlike other exams.
  • It is not about a score or a mark.
  • Like the CELBAN, the SEC is a competency exam designed to identify your gaps in knowledge.
  • What this means is that the results are used to determine if you need to take upgrading, and if so in which subjects.
  • Nursing education for Canadian nurses covers all areas, so a Canadian RN is a generalist at the beginning. The SEC has been created to determine if you have the education/experience in all areas.
  • In this way, you can not “fail” the SEC. You can merely demonstrate your competencies, your skill levels, your applied knowledge. If you do not have the skills, competencies and ability to apply the knowledge, no worries. You will simply be required to take classes, courses or workshops to fill the gaps.

The SEC is not required in all Canadian provinces. Actually it is mostly in Western Canada.

Let me tell you a bit about the history.

Back in 2012, the SEC was relatively new. It was created as a result of the statistics for Internationally Educated Nurses taking the CRNE (the exam before the NCLEX): only 50% were passing. Since the creation of the SEC and other programs for IENs the percent of IENs passing the CRNE increased to more than 70% passing rate.

So, while many people are frustrated by the process, how long it takes to become a nurse in Canada, I have come to see that each step has actually been created to assist IENs in obtaining success.

You are right. There are very few resources for the SEC.  Do a search for information about the “Triple Jump” and the “OSCE”.

It is important to note that both the Triple Jump and OSCE are common testing processes here in Canada.

OSCE’s are used in most health professions: pharmacy, physiotherapy, medical doctors. They are a form of role playing, where you are the health practitioner talking to a patient. The room has required resources in books or medical instruments. There is also an assessor. To get a better idea use OSCE as a search term on youtube. You can also search OSCE Nursing.

The triple jump is used in Canadian Nursing schools, and has been adapted for the SEC. For more resources, go to your local university where Canadian nurses are taught. Go to the medical library and and ask the reference/information desk about information on the triple jump. In BC and Alberta your public library card allows you access to the university library collections. Ask for more information at your local library about how this works.

Once you complete the SEC, you may be required to take some courses. You will also be required to work as a Graduate Nurse, for several hundred hours, if you do not already have these hours in Canada or the US. At that time you will be able to register for the NCLEX.

Does this help?
P.S. If it is alright with you I will copy and past your question on Dear Kim so it is searchable and others can read both the question and answer. KK

Dear Kim :

thank you for the explanation and i hope people like you are always encouraged and empowered to help others to fulfill their dreams ( i hope one day ill be in a position to help others as well) as i believe helping others will add to ones life , thank you a gain.

your comments helped a lot yet am not in BC at the moment i am back to UAE where i used to live before immigrating, to work till i set for the SEC assessment , that is why its difficult to access a library, as i shared with you i can not afford moving totally till am able to provide financially for my babies.
my SEC assessment is in Vancouver.

its my pleasure to use my post if it adds information to any one in need ill be pleased to help :) thank you for that also.

i need more clarification regarding few points please :) :

  1. 1. whether i wont require course(i hope ) or i will post the SEC assessment, WILL I BE ABLE TO WORK? is this the case? as you mentioned it will be required that i work hours as graduate nurse.
  2. 2. when you say hours, over here we work 8 hours shifts , so does that apply in Canada? if it does it means i only have to work for about X days?
    please correct me if am wrong?
  3. 3. and those hours are they paid for ?if so do you have an idea on how much/ hour the pay is? or those hours are considered as part of the assessment till writing the NCLEX
  4. 4. if that is the case will work be arranged by CRNBC ? or i will be the one arranging for working the hours in Canadian hospitals or clinics?
  5. 5. oh, and if in case i am required to take courses, does that mean i can set for the NCLEX after taking the course/s and working the hours? or ill have to be assessed again ?
  6. 6. once i am able to work the hours as a graduate nurse, that means the i might be assigned to any area ( i mean surgical/medical or peds…..?
    as i have 12 years of experience in operating theaters as scrubbing/circulating nurse will that give me an option to be assigned to OR for example?.

please excuse me for all those clarification requests, am just like others seeking assistance to make the right decisions to move to Canada on solid grounds and not to have unrealistic high hopes by not understanding the limitations :) .

thank you ,

hope to hear from you soon,

kind regards,


Dear S,

It is 11:22 pm at the end of a very long day at the end of a very full week. I was about to sign off, after marking CELBANPrep Writing assignments, when I saw the comment. Just reading the first few lines motivated me to reply. Me too. I too hope and pray that those who understand the plight of immigrants coming to Canada continue to create ways to make the path more smooth, taking out the stones in the path, and removing the fallen trees. I hope that I will continue to be blessed to assist others in fulfilling their dreams as that is my dream. You are so right, when we assist others we are doing what we have been created to do.

Sigh, at the same time I wish I had more resources at my disposal so that I could do so much more.

I am grateful for your reply. Now I understand. When it comes to your writing your verb tenses go back and forth, so I was not sure where exactly you are living. It would be good for you to see if you can get a hold of some Advanced Grammar Books. You will benefit greatly from taking time to work on this, to increase your success when in Canada and to assist people in understanding you better. This will decrease the stress and burden of adapting to Canadian culture. So, Sumoud, where are you from originally. As I understand it, UAE is multicultural.

You have two different types of questions:

  1. immigration/employment and
  2. the RN licensure process.

In a way, they overlap.

I applaud your desire to do research, many many people have suffered disappointment and disillusionment from either being under informed, poorly informed or wrongly informed.

I met a woman that had been in Canada for only one week. She came to me to find out how to become a nurse, thinking she would be able to practice immediately. So she had been told by immigration officers who were ill-informed themselves. I had to be the one to tell her the truth, shattering her hopes and her dreams.

That memory remains with me, solidifying in me a desire to share whatever information I have in the hopes that people I meet do not “have unrealistic high hopes by not understanding the limitations.”

Q1. whether i wont require course(i hope ) or i will post the SEC assessment, WILL I BE ABLE TO WORK? is this the case? as you mentioned it will be required that i work 225 hours as graduate nurse.

Answer: You can work if you have the right documentation. (See what I wrote on becoming an LPN, which can also be applied to becoming an RN. Also read The difference between an LPN and an RN.)

  • You can not work as a visitor: on a Visitor Visa.
  • Without a license you would have to get what is often called a “survival job”. Survival jobs do not get paid well, but often people are able to improve their English and learn more about the culture. Positions include: service industry as a cashier, janitorial services, driving a taxi or bus. Often Internationally Educated Nurses get positions such as Nursing Assistant/Personal Care Attendant. As unlicensed positions, the pay is relatively low. It can be demeaning and disheartening for many who come from a successful career having gained a degree of status or material wealth.

Q2. when you say x hours, over here we work 8 hours shifts , so does that apply in Canada? if it does it means i only have to work for about x days?
please correct me if am wrong?

Answer: In many provinces there is a period of time where you are required to work on a practicum. As a teacher it is unpaid. As a Graduate Nurse, you are paid. You can only get these positions if you have a temporary license, which would be issued after you complete the SEC and any required courses.

  • Shift work in hospitals is long hours, and many GN’s do not have time to study for the CRNE.

I have known some IENs who have gotten to this stage, but who were not able to secure a GN position. Shifts can be up to 12 hours.

Once an RN: working evenings means an increase in pay; working weekends means an increase in pay; working evenings on a weekend means an even greater pay increase per hour.

People can work more than x hours, and this number may change over time, as long as they have the temporary license and the position is offered/available. (For example if people do not pass the NCLEX they can continue as a GN after paying for an extension, but there is a limit to the number of extensions.)

Q3. and those hours are they paid for ?if so do you have an idea on how much/ hour the pay is? or those hours are considered as part of the assessment till writing the CRNE

Answer:Yes, paid. Check what I wrote about RN and LPN.

Q4. if that is the case will work be arranged by CRNBC? or i will be the one arranging for working the x hours in Canadian hospitals or clinics?

Answer. I need to clarify. CRNBC is the College of Registered Nurses of BC. They are the administrators of the licensure process:  determining which SEC exam you take (there are many versions); determining which courses you will take, and at which facility/college/university; requiring the x hours as a GN, and confirming your score on the national exam, the NCLEX.

As I understand it you get your temporary licence from CRNBC, (or for other people their provincial college of nurses). Then you must apply for GN positions at hospitals. These positions are also sought after by Canadian nursing students, and are posted on hospital websites. Like any job, there is competition. Depending on your schooling requirements, in some situations, this may be arranged for you.

Q5. oh, and if in case i am required to take courses, does that mean i can sit for the CRNE after taking the course/s and working the x hours? or ill have to be assessed again ?

Answer. The order is:

  1. English => Documentation => SEC => Upgrading courses based on the results of the SEC then..
  2. GN x hrs => NCLEX.

The only people I know of who have had to take the SEC again, for re-assessment are those who failed the NCLEX three times.

Usually this happens for people who were admitted to the process before the SEC was required, or they only took one of the five SEC exams. Upon re-assessment they have had to take all five exams, and often end up taking 8 full time (3 credit) university level classes.

Q6. once i am able to work the 225 hours as a graduate nurse, that means the i might be assigned to any area ( i mean surgical/medical or peds…..as i have 12 years of experience in operating theaters as scrubbing/circulating nurse will that give me an option to be assigned to OR for example?.

Answer. As I mentioned, Canadian nurses are trained as generalists. In the UK nurses are specialists. As a result even IENs from the UK have been known to take the SEC and courses they did not take while doing the specialist program. The clinicians can be in various areas. Some times a specific area may be identified for an individual… and that may be different from what is required of someone else. The process is very individual in that way. (At least from what I have heard and understand.) I do have a friend who applied for a position to take additional training as an OR nurse. This was after she became a Registered Nurse. As a specialization, additional training was required. 

Are you assuming you are only writing one of the SEC exams, is that what the CRNBC told you? The SEC can be one day/one exam up to 5 days/5 exams.

Immigration is an uncertain process: there are so many unknowns. Do your research, learn what you need, but don’t over think it. At one point or another you will simply have to make the decision and follow through. The people that I have seen succeed have succeeded because they overcome what is slowing them down, standing int heir way, or stopping them with:

  • their resilience,
  • their determination, and 
  • their willingness to work hard.

Patience and forgiveness are also great characteristics. There will be hard times, there will be disappointments. But is that not so of all of life? of marriage? or working?

And remember, always remember we as Canadians are imperfect people. We have a great country. We have many resources. We have such beauty in our nature. Yet we as a people are imperfect.

As a social experiment where nations at war live side by side as neighbours there still is unrest. There is discrimination, there still is crime, there still is pollution, there is still family violence, and addiction has it’s impact on our people. Maybe not to the same scale as in other nations and places, but it does exist. We as a people are learning, and we are learning together. I think that is the biggest misconception people have when considering Canada. Don’t get me wrong. I love Canada. I love being Canadian. I love how well respected we are when we travel. But I am still saddened to see and hear discrimination among other things. Again, I write this so that you and others that read this still decide to come to Canada not with “unrealistic high hopes by not understanding the limitations” but with solid understanding as a foundation to perseverance and true and lasting hope. Dreams can come true here. It may take time. It may take money. But like any long term investment, it is worth it in the end.

Good night, Somoud

P.S. Was that soon enough? :)

Dear Kim :

Thanks a million for spending time in writing replies after such long days, it takes committed blessed people like you to do that, much appreciated.

i do agree that i need to work on my language skills and its a priority on my agenda,point taken and will start working on it immediately , but i had to laugh because i was so excited once i read your reply and wanted to know more lol, i should have spent more time organizing my thoughts :) apologizes if i have confused you (with my needs to improve English skills) :)

so allow me to clarify ,
i am an RN from my home country (Jordan)
and been living and working in UAE for the past 11 years.
i am a Canadian permanent resident.
i have a confirmed SEC appointment on medical/surgical assessment on the 23/24 July (all paper work and documents from CRNBC confirms the above mentioned status), and will fly to Canada few days before the assessment.

difference between CRNBC is clearer now, but i was not clear about whether they have anything to do with arranging for the required designated working hours. i assumed that this is part of the assessment, now i understand :)

regarding the temporary licence just want to confirm is it automatically given (upon candidate )application post SEC and taking the recommended courses (if any) in BC (assuming that i went through all and registered to write the CRNE )?

i understand very well the challenges internationally educated nurses have specially towards becoming an RN in Canada not to forget the other important aspects of living in Canada, which obviously i am facing at the moment, my biggest challenge is deciding to permanently move with my babies and husband to BC.
therefore finding clues and advice from experts that are willing to assist is a gift am so lucky to have.

dreams will come true because they are not only dreams its a life style and building future for my babies who i will do the impossible to provide them with a descent future and good memories of their mom that did all she can to make them happy :)

and yes that was shockingly soon reply with your massive responsibilities
highly appreciated,

kind regards,


Dear Sumoud,
It is lovely hearing from you again, and getting to know your situation better. Now I have a better understanding of how you can be preparing for the SEC while being oversees. Being a PR is advantageous. And actually it is quite smart. You are able to continue having a good income while going through the very long process of becoming a nurse here in Canada! You are also being protected from the forced humility imposed on immigrants who are professional skilled workers back home, but are doing menial jobs for a low pay here. Your path has already been made much smoother than so many other people. You are indeed both blessed and very very fortunate.

Do you know any other nursed from Jordan in Canada?

No need for the apology. My sister was my best teacher. She had difficulty in learning, and with writing. Although I did not realize it at the time she taught me how to be patient and understanding in reading what others write. She taught me how to read the meaning of the message more than worry about how things are being said/written. It is so interesting that having her as a sister prepared me for what I am doing now as a career.

I am glad you are excited. I often have an internal debate: is it better to inform (even with depressing news) or is it better to equivocate or tell only half of the story. My spirit always guides me, telling me it is better to inform people, to tell them the truth even if it is bad news. This way people can be better prepared. So the fact that you were still excited delights me!

As for your clarification (great communication skills by the way). You wrote:
“regarding the temporary licence just want to confirm is it automatically given (upon candidate )application post SEC and taking the recommended courses (if any) in BC (assuming that i went through all and registered to write the NCLEX )?”

All is correct except for the last line. You do not have to be registered for the NCLEX to get the temporary license. You do have to complete the previous steps, as you outlined. The issuing of the license is by the provincial college of nurses, in your case the CRNBC. It is issued as part of the process. 

I am touched deeply in reading your last two paragraphs. What I can say is that your positive attitude will take you far. Your spirit shines through your writing, across the miles. And I truly hope you will allow me to walk beside you on your journeys to becoming a nurse here in Canada.

Yes having CELBANPrep, and having so many ideas and goals in my head that I need to create and manifest does keep me busy. But it is communications like this that keep me motivated: continually reminding me that there is still work to be done. And I hope that no matter where my path takes me I will always be able to connect with people on a personal basis. It fills my heart and feeds my soul.

Thank you for being willing to come to Canada to take care of my family, my friends and my people.


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