♥ I’m not sure about what I want to do in the future

Hello Kim,
I’m from the Europe and I’m one year in Canada, because I have a work permit for one year.( until October 2012 )
In the Europe I’m a Regristred Nurse, but in Canada I have to do a lot of things before I can work in a hospital.
In November Last year I started with English at Global Village, I also passed the FCE exam; First Certificate in English.
On this moment I’m following a preperation course for IELTS, but this is sometimes difficult and mostly not medical related.
I saw on the list from CARNA with the required language that it is also possible to do the CELBAN test
What do you reccommend me to do, the IELTS or the CELBAN
Are there any classes which I can join or do you have more information about it ?
I don’t have a CLB score, but I will try tomorrow to do a on-line assessment.

I hope you have enough information about my

Thank you again

Greetings A

Dear A,
Four years ago when I started teaching CELBANPrep, I met an IEN from Europe who came with a work permit. For her it was a horrendous experience, as she has travelled to many places and had her nursing background honored so that she could work as a nurse, but here she could only get an unlicensed position as a nursing assistant, and that was after a long time and a lot of hard work. Eventually she went back home. But she returned to Canada last year, as a permanent resident. Her knowledge of the process to become a nurse and of French allowed her to get a job more easily in Quebec. So although you said a lot in your e-mail, I am understanding the situation more deeply because of her experiences.

How long is your work permit? Are you planning on extending it? Where are you with your CLB? How are you doing with grammar? Have you used any advance grammar books? This can improve your score in reading, speaking and writing, when it comes to the CELBAN.

What are your plans for the future? Were you planning on migrating? Or were you just here for a few months/years? The reason I ask is because the process with CARNA takes more than two years, not including the English.

You may want to check out my blog, Dear Kim. Many of your questions will be answered about IELTS, CELBAN, becoming an RN and more.

Please feel free to write back, with more questions. I look forward to your answers,



Thank you for your answer.
My Workpormit is valid until 2nd October 2012, so I have quiet a few months left.
I’m not sure about what I want to do in the future, but it might be possible that my husband and I try to immigrate to Canada
Lately I was at the Mount Royal University , and people told my the full length of time before I’m able to work as a Regristerd Nurse.
Now I want to know If I can achieve that level of English, or if it is too difficult for my to learn it
On this moment I’m following an IELTS preperation class until the end of June or July.
I tried to search on the Celban site for a Exam date, but there are a few possiblities because I leave this country by October 2012
I did the CLB test last Saturday, reading and listening  came with a score between 6 and 7 on level 2

Greetings A


Dear A,

I am going to answer this e-mail as if we were already friends.

Considering that your work permit is until October, and you may or may not apply or even get an extension, I suggest you have fun exploring Canada. There are such vast differences from one coast to the other, with cultural mosaics across the land. Summer is here. Calgary is a beautiful place, but so it is in many other places. You may discover that you would rather live in a different city or a different province, if you do migrate.

Each province has a different process to become an RN, but all take from 2-5 years, and cost about $5000. That is not even considering the English. Your English score is very good, very high. It is good enough to carry a conversation and be quite capable. But the Colleges of nursing require a level of English at the university level because you may be required to take courses at the university level, from 8-10. It takes time to go from a 5-6 to an 8-10. (Even at the LPN level you need to have 8’s.) So I recommend you focus on your English. take this opportunity to immerse yourself. Find a job you like, where you can talk to people all day. You will have to do this anyway, get what is called a survival job, if you decide to migrate.

What I am saying is that it is better to reframe your experience here from becoming a nurse, to expanding your competence with the language. In the mean time enjoy yourself, explore and see what Canada has to offer.

I have a subscriber to CELBANPrep. She is here in Canada working as a nursing assistant in Banff. I asked her how she learned about Banff. She told me she came to Canada as a visitor. She got a motorcycle and drove from Vancouver to the Maritines… even with really poor English. She saw everything Canada had to offer, and decided that she wanted to be in Banff. She went home, continued with her life, and started her immigration process. Although she has to deal with the same stresses as other IENs, when it comes to studying and becoming a nurse here she is very happy. She is doing activities that she enjoys, and loving life. She has a garden plot, in a community garden, goes biking and hiking when she if free, and enjoys where she is in the world.

Canada had such great variety, there is a perfect place for everyone: but what is a perfect place for one is not a perfect place for another. And when a person is not in a perfect place there is more stress, but in the perfect place there is life.

My friend in Quebec, she went from a life of stress in Alberta to a full and complete life in Quebec.

So please Anna, please consider the adventure before you. Please consider all of the opportunities before you. Focus on your English. People from Asia send their children to Canada to learn English: not by taking English classes with a focus on an English Proficiency test, but by being immersed in the language by living here. English Canada does the same sending children to Quebec on language exchanges so their children learn French. So much more can be learned in life, from life, than in a classroom. Enter the University of Life.

It would be sad, I think, for you to spend your whole time in Canada in a classroom, with the stress of being a student. It is not that you can not learn the language, that it is too difficult, it is that it takes more time than you have right now. Our winters are exceedingly long. Our summers are so very short. Our country is so very beautiful, with so much diversity. Build within yourself a love for the country. It will feed your heart and spirit if you choose to take on a very long and complex process to become a nurse here.

Once your English is strong enough, and you have extremely high scores, then you can choose the province of your choice, and learn more about how to become a nurse there. The first step, English score, is universal across provinces. The next step differs depending on where you live.



6 responses to “♥ I’m not sure about what I want to do in the future

  1. Dear Friends,

    Hi, I’m a recent nurse graduate from the Philippines and worked in the hospital for 5 months. Recently, my family and I acquired the Canadian Visa and are now set to go to Canada on August 27th. Just a question though, if my school’s language of instruction is English (and considering that English is widely spoken here in our country, nursing textbooks and exams are in that language as well and I’m comfortable speaking/writing in that medium), am I still required to take the IELTS/CELBAN exam? I am really anxious about my future as a nurse there and would like to work as soon as possible.

    Hoping for some guidance.

    Miss D

    • Dear Miss D,

      Congratulations! I know that it takes a long time and great effort to get to where you are, so close to migrating to Canada. I am glad that you are making this move with your family: although there will be many changes, you will have loved ones with you where you can find support.

      I am glad you are asking this question. The Philippines is the only nation where English is not taught by native speakers. All over the world people from Canada, the US, Australia and England (to mention a few) are invited to teach English: receiving work visas to do so. In the Philippines there is a great tradition and national pride in English being taught in the schools by people from the Philippines. While this can be a great strength, it creates a situation where individuals migrating from the Philippines have inherited this pride in their ability to communicate in English.

      When it comes to the Colleges of Nursing, the registration bodies, they require a University level of English with CLB (Canadian Language Benchmark) scores from 7-10. Most people coming from the Philippines have obtained a great conversational level of English, around a 5 or 6, which is equal to a high school level. The reason for such high scores is that in many provinces this score acts as a university entrance requirement: once people have submitted an acceptable English Proficiency, they are required to take upgrading in Canadian Universities. The Colleges work to ensure the greatest success for Internationally Educated Nurses in these classes by ensuring they are competent in the English language at a University level.

      What most people do not understand is that the difference between a 5 or 6, 9 or 10 is not one point. The difference is logarithmic: people who test CLB’s say it takes 100 class room hours to increase a score by one point.

      What happens for many people coming to Canada from the Philippines is that they come with a score of around 5, which is high functioning in society. Backed with national pride they think that they do not need additional classes, support, preparation. Many take the CELBAN without preparation, and fail. (Very few can pass without preparation.)

      What is wonderful about you, Miss D, is that by asking this question you are aware that it is possible that even though you come from the Philippines and have had all of your education in English that you may be required to take an English exam. Like people from India and Nigeria who have had all of their education in English you are required to submit an acceptable score on an English Proficiency exam, whether it be the Academic version of the IELTS or the CELBAN.

      Over the many years I have spent teaching CELBANPrep, I have met many people from the Philippines, where there is a great deal of variance in competencies with the English language: like most bell curves, the average person has a level of around 5, with a few people with higher scores and some people with lower scores. In reading your question I can see that you have a higher level of competency in writing English. For you preparation for the CELBAN it would be important for you to understand the implications of the Canadian culture in nursing, to understand the structure of the exam and the expectations.

      While you will be required to submit an English score, with some preparation I believe you would be able to pass the first time. You only get to take the CELBAN three times, and your exam will expire in two years so it is important to have one chance available for when it expires.

      So, Miss D. You will have to submit an acceptable English score. Depending on your province you will be required to take a nursing competency equivalency exam. Once you have taken the exam you will be required to take courses to ensure you have the equivalent education to a Canadian Educated Nurse. You will be required to do practicums, and work for 225 hours as a graduate nurse before taking the national exam, the CRNE. It is a long process that takes over two years, and can cost up to $5000 CND. Passing the English requirements is only the first step.

      In the mean time you can get an unlicensed position. It is at a lower pay with lower responsibilities, but if you are in a hospital setting there is much you can learn about the similarities and differences of nursing in Canada vs the Philippines. Nurses from the Philippines have traditionally have a 50% passing rate on the CRNE. The more you learn about nursing in Canada the better you will do on this exam.

      Also, you may want to look into becoming a licensed practical nurse, LPN, in the mean time. (search this topic on Dear Kim.)

      I know that this may not be what you expected and wanted to hear. You may have wanted to hear that you can become a nurse as soon as you land, or as soon as you pass an English exam. But this is not so. It is a long and hard process,regardless of where you come from, which is why it is wonderful that you are coming with family. Choosing an easier path means investing in yourself and your education. It means making choices that allow you to quicken the process: taking preparation classes will help you tremendously in moving more quickly along the licensure process.

      I wish the very best for you and your family, Miss D. The fact that you are seeking guidance even before you land in Canada shows how thoughtful you are. May your ability to seek guidance allow you to overcome barriers with ease.


      P.S. Because it is such a great question, I have created a new post with your question! “If my language of instruction is English, in the Philippines, am I required to take the IELTS/CELBAN exam?”

  2. Elisabet Serra

    Hi A!
    My name is Elisabet, I am a spanish nurse, I was a kim student in Bredin Institute. I am working in the Quebec province as a registered nurse now. I have lived in Edmonton for 9 months, and me too I tried to become a registered nurse in Alberta, my objectif was to work in a intensif care unit. In my case…it didn’t work, but at the end I understood why I did the things in the wrong way…Some times wrong things can help others to do the things in the right way. So maybe it can help you to read my story.
    I ve been longtime without using english…so I will try to talk to you about my experience, even if I’ll do mistakes.

    In my case, I started the process in CARNA, and at the same time I tried to get a job as a nurse assistant, that way I would improve my english and I would have a first experience in the Canadian hospital context. At the same time, I started to study english.
    Kim was assessing me about the process to become a nurse; as you can see, she is really helpfully and she is able to bring you a lot of motivation!! (I don’t find my words, to say that she is brilliant in her job, and as a person too). It was new for her to have pupils with a temporary work permit, and we have learned together about the difficulties of extending this kind of status.

    It could take me a lot of “speech” to tell you about my experience, and I don’t really have time now. I will just give you my point of view: even if becoming a registered nurse can take from one to two years in Alberta, it is a priority to pass an english exam. When you send the results to CARNA….it can take from 2 to 4 months before they starts to asses your papers, but at least, it will be easier for you to talk to a human ressources service, in a hospital, and become “eligibly as a future nurse”. (showing them CARNA response, they can do it). They can do a contract as a “future nurse”, and it can helps you on extending your work permit!! You will be able to work too, at the same time CARNA will guide you on the process to become a RN.

    SO; 1rst thing; you pass your English exam 2ond thing: you can get a contract as a “future nurse”, 3d thing: the hospital will take the responsability on giving you the papers, wich will allow immigration on extending your work permit. 4th thing: you will be able to work as a “future nurse” all the months that Carna will be assessing you. Working as “future nurse” will help you on learning how nurses works in Canada….you will have more chances to pass de exams to be a RN (more than if you work as a nurse assistant as I did: for sure it was a good experience for me, but 3 weeks before my work permit was going to expire, talking to a ressources humaines from Royal Victoria Hospital, and with Carna, I understood that I have had to start on having my english exam!!).

    Anyway, finally I talked to the person who is recruiting nurses to come to Quebec: I did exacly what she told to me, and one year later I started a job as a “CEPI” (candidate à la profession infirmière=eligibly as a future nurse) in Montreal. With my husband we have done the papers to get the Permanent Residence, and being a nurse in Quebec we could get them in 6 months (some times it can take you 2 years!).
    It took again a lot of energy…I had to pass the OIIQ exam (nurses college in Quebec)….work-study-family….not easy…On may of last year, I became a registered nurse, and since yesterday (!) I amb allowed to work in the intensif care unit in L’Hôpital Maisonneuve Rosemont, after 40 days of “orientation” program an 2 exams. So, I can tell you now that I ACHIEVED MY OBJECTIVE, KEEP GOING AND YOU’LL GET YOURS!!
    Best regards and GOOD LUCK! Elisabet

    • Thank you Elisabet.

      Although it has been a while since you have written in English you have done really well.

      Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to write this. I appreciate you helping others to learn about what it is like to Come to Canada as an RN on a Work Permit.

      I know it has taken a long time, and so much frustration with the process, especially considering your skills, abilities and international experience, but I am so proud and happy for you.

      Say “Hello!” to your family for me!

  3. Hello,
    I know how you feel and how hard to bocome a nurse in Canada.The biggest charenge is English for me. Anyway,as Kim said I would recommend you to explore and adventure Canada. From my experience,I had learned lots of things and met lots of nice people while I was traveling.
    You never know you might find a place where you really want to stay or you might meet somone who gives you an advice, which you are looking for, help you to become a nures or change your life ! I met a family while I’m traveling and they helped me when I had a trouble with my motorcyle. We just talked for 10 min but they gave me their contact. I cantacted them two month later. I visited and staied with them. We became a good friend. They helped me to become an immigrant ! I’ve never thought that I want to immigrate to Canada that time I met them but after I finish to travel around Canada, I found a great place, met many nice peole I started to think to immigrate to Canada. Becoming an immigation was long process for me. Now,I’m trying to pass the CELBAN test and become a nurse. It is a loooooong process!!!
    However,Life is short ,I prefer to enjoy my life. Also I belive that there is always some reson for what happend to you.I try to find a good reason when something happed to me either good or bad.
    Since we found Kim,now we have a huge help and I’m really appreciated what she has been doing.
    I wish you all the best.


  4. Dear Friend
    I was reading your post on the forum and I was impressed as always with the feedback that Kim had posted. Speaking from experience as a student of Kim, I can only say that Kim is a phenominal person. She has guided me from the very beginning with her words of encouragement.The direction she leads her students into taking is remarkable. Do consider taking her advice and her words of wisdom. If you do consider celban in the in near future, I can assure you it will be a very good and successful investment .

    All the best to you.

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