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Concern grows over adoption of American registered nurse exam – News Release

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Ottawa, Tuesday, December 13, 2011 – The Canadian Nurses Association’s (CNA) shock last week over a decision to bring the NCLEX-RN® exam to Canada for the purpose of licensing new nurses is being mirrored across the country. Since the announcement last week, CNA has heard from many registered nurses (RN), nursing students, professional associations and other Canadians who are concerned that 10 of Canada’s RN regulators have selected the American-based National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to develop a new RN entry exam.

“The thousands of responses we have received reinforce the importance of this issue and demonstrate the need for immediate clarification of our unanswered questions,” said CNA president Judith Shamian. “Though we’re pleased to hear the regulators are committed to incorporating Canadian input, we are concerned at the same time about NCSBN announcing they will bring the NCLEX-RN exam to Canada. CNA is committed to ongoing conversations with the regulators and working to ensure we protect the integrity of the nursing profession and the health and safety of Canadians.”

Concern is centred around how an exam developed outside Canada could appropriately reflect Canadian curriculum, research, cultural sensitivities and health-care system values, while also protecting the privacy of Canadian nurses with regard to the USA Patriot Act. The adoption of the NCLEX-RN® exam in Canada could also mean easier recruitment of Canadian RNs from across the border.

“We have a responsibility as the national voice of registered nurses to advocate for a clearly identified and integral role for Canadian nurses in the decision-making and development process of an exam,” said Shamian. “We are encouraged by the volume of feedback from our members and the public. It’s important we all fully understand the issue and the immediate and long-term implications of this decision. This issue is fundamental to the safe and effective professional-led regulation of our profession, and ultimately the delivery of quality care to Canadians.”

RN regulators in each province and territory decide which entry exam is to be used in their jurisdiction; that exam determines whether a new RN is qualified to practise in Canada’s health-care system. Currently, nursing candidates in every province and territory except for Quebec take the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination. CNA and its testing company, Assessment Strategies Inc. (ASI), were part of a consortium that submitted a bid to develop a new computer-based exam, but American-based NCSBN was selected. At the time of selection, RN regulators indicated that development of the new exam would include input from Canadian nursing experts and practising nurses. Concern grew when NCSBN announced that Canadian RN candidates would be offered the existing NCLEX-RN® exam. This would be the first time the exam is used for the purpose of licensure in another country.

CNA is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 143,843 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kate Headley, External Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Telephone: 613-237-2159, ext. 561
Cell: 613-697-7507
E-mail: kheadley@cna-aiic.ca