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How we’re helping internationally educated nurses return to doing what they love

Internationally educated nurse Renz Jerome De la Cruz working at The Ottawa Hospital

This year, The Ottawa Hospital’s team of registered nurses was very pleased to welcome Marde Jade Carbonell and Renz Jerome De la Cruz.

Marde and Renz both hail from the Philippines. Both have substantial experience as registered nurses. Both have been in Canada for many years.

But to become registered as a nurse in Canada, internationally educated nurses like Marde and Renz have to show evidence of recent practice. Until just last year, the only way for them to gain this required work experience was to go back to their home country. 

Fortunately, there’s now a much quicker path… and The Ottawa Hospital is happy to be part of it.

The Ottawa Hospital’s Supervised Practice Experience Program

In early 2022, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and Ontario Health launched the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP) program, which pairs internationally educated nurses with hospitals like ours or long-term care homes. This provides them with a practice placement opportunity to gain the experience they need.

If you’ve met all other requirements to practice nursing in Ontario and just need your evidence of practice, this is the program for you.

The Ottawa Hospital is a participating partner in the SPEP program and has temporary full-time paid positions available in a variety of clinical settings. And you don’t have to already work with us to join our program. We accept applicants from both inside and outside our hospital.

Though our Supervised Practice Experience Program just launched last year, we already have great news to share: Like Marde and Renz, the majority of international nurses who completed our program are currently working with us as RNs and RPNs.

“I really loved the program. The onsite training gave me the chance to rekindle my RN skills.”

Marde Jade Carbonell, RN, Geriatric Medicine Unit, Civic Campus

Marde Jade Carbonell, RN, Geriatric Medicine Unit, Civic Campus

In the Philippines, Marde worked as a registered nurse at a hospital for eight years, eventually receiving a promotion to head nurse.

Marde came to Canada in 2018. After receiving her licence to practice as a registered practical nurse, she cared for elderly residents in retirement homes for nearly four years. But she wanted to return to working in a hospital as a registered nurse.

Marde heard about our Supervised Practice Experience Program through a friend, a registered nurse here at The Ottawa Hospital who herself had gone through the program.

Inspired to sign up, Marde reached out to the program coordinator in February 2023. And in March, she began her placement in the Transitional Care Unit at the West End Villa.

 “I really loved the program,” says Marde. “The onsite training gave me the chance to rekindle my RN skills. With each passing week, I became more and more confident in my abilities to successfully carry out procedures, set priorities and respond to a variety of situations. Also, the program coordinator is so warm hearted, and my teacher was so nice to me.”

Marde completed the program in about six weeks. And only two days later, she received her RN registration. Marde is now a full-time registered nurse on the Geriatric Medicine Unit at the Civic Campus, caring for our elderly patients.

“I love my role as a nurse,” says Marde. “It is rewarding for me to be able to make people who are sick feel better. At the end of the day, I feel amazing, relieved and successful because I am part of a team that saves lives.”

In the future, Marde wants to return to the program, this time as an educator.

“I want to teach RNs like me,” she says. “I want to help other people gain confidence.”

“I’m happy to be working as a nurse. It brings me fulfillment.”

Renz Jerome De la Cruz, RN, Emergency Department, General Campus

Renz Jerome De la Cruz, RN, Emergency Department, General Campus

Renz worked as a registered nurse in a large hospital in Naga City before coming to Canada in 2017 as an international student, settling first in Montreal before moving to Nova Scotia. The Ottawa Hospital is the reason he and his wife came to our city.

“My wife got a position as a resource nurse at the General Campus,” he recalls.

Renz himself joined The Ottawa Hospital as an orderly in October 2021 and joined the Supervised Practice Experience Program in January 2023, completing his placement in the Civic Campus Orthopedics Unit. Just like Marde, he received his RN registration shortly after finishing the program—in a single week.  

“The program was great,” praises Renz. “I loved how accommodating the nurses were, the willingness of the nurses to teach international nurses and familiarize them with the system here in Canada. I had a wonderful teacher who taught me everything and boosted my confidence to work as a nurse.”

Renz is now a full-time RN in the Emergency Department at the General Campus.

“I’m happy to be working as a nurse. It brings me fulfillment,” he says. “My hope is to keep improving, keep learning and help patients under my care.”

We want to hear from you

The Ottawa Hospital is committed to supporting internationally educated nurses as they grow and develop their professional nursing practice. We invite you to learn more about our Supervised Practice Experience Program and discover other opportunities at our hospital.


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