Nursing Journeys Vol. 9 – Catherine Ikponwosa

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VOL. 9 | CATHERINE IKPONWOSA – NURSING JOURNEYS

INTERNATIONALLY-EDUCATED NURSES RECOUNT THEIR INDIVIDUAL STORIES ON THEIR ROAD TO BECOMING NURSES IN CANADA

 

“I purchased my first Canadian house.”

 

Catherine is really looking forward to her family visiting soon, as she recently purchased a new home in British Columbia, Canada.

She came to OMNI College as an Internationally-Educated Nurse from Nigeria. 

She decided to continue her education overseas because she felt that, “Back home, there were not a lot of opportunities for nurses.  So right from the moment when I chose to study nursing, I knew that I was eventually going to go overseas to continue my education”.

Today, Catherine is a Registered Nurse in Canada, living and working on Vancouver Island, in British Columbia.

“I wanted a place that will provide the opportunity I needed to develop myself while in a friendly and inclusive environment. Canada fit that criteria based on my own research and words from friends already living there.” 

When she was researching which Canadian school to attend, she said that “my focus was to study and pass the RN Licensing exam, and not necessarily pursue a specialty course as most people would. I figured my priority should be to get my RN license first, and then once I got that I could go into any specialty I wanted.”

 She said, “I did not have any place in mind so I just needed to find the one school that focuses more on internationally trained nurses wanting to bridge the gap between home and Canada.  Most of the schools were into specialty courses which are great, but based on my personal goal, OMNI was the only school I found that made the cut for me.”

Meeting OMNI College alumni helped her in her journey.  Catherine has always been highly self-motivated, but it was during her days in class and when OMNI graduates would come by to visit the school when she found great inspiration.  She said that “I witnessed firsthand the success rate of the students before me, each having their own unique story before achieving their goals. This made me want to be in their shoes as soon as possible, and seeing them encouraged me to work hard”.

When we asked her what was the most challenging part of her journey, she explained “Oh boy! Coming from the other side of the world, the weather here was not my favourite. That definitely took a lot of adapting! Then…the nursing skills class in the OMNI College lab – wow that was an entirely new experience. Thank God for awesome teachers. I do not think I would have survived those classes without them being so patient. At the same time, the lengthy, frustrating registration process was tough – the regulatory bodies always asking for one document after another, and then another. Until finally they asked no more! Lol!”

The nurse registration process for an Internationally-Educated Nurse in Canada is a complex process to navigate.   IENs who come to Canada without the proper support can find themselves lost, overwhelmed or stuck on their own.  Catherine says she received a tremendous amount of support from OMNI and although it was a tough registration process, it was all worth it.

“I am so grateful for how everything turned out so far. I came to Canada for the sole purpose of becoming a Canadian Nurse and I can proudly say I achieved that with the help of family and friends at OMNI. Within a year of achieving my RN license, I found myself filling in leadership roles at my workplace, working side by side with various site directors and managers, preceptoring students at different levels, and working with awesome colleagues. I’m so incredibly happy that I can comfortably support my family now”.

Catherine moved to Vancouver Island with some of her fellow classmates at OMNI.  She feels grateful for the many friendships she built at the College, and they continue to have a routine “family dinner” every week where they catch up and enjoy one another’s company.  She says “I made many friends from work as well, as everyone is super friendly over here. The most exciting thing is that I will be expecting my family to visit for Easter, as I purchased my first Canadian house! I can’t wait for them to see it.”

At work, she says, “everyone is super supportive. There are tons of resources specifically for nurses.  There are many opportunities for professional development, and the benefits are competitive.”

During her days off, Catherine enjoys the unique nature Canada has to offer. “I am a full time nurse, so I like to make good use of my days off. I love to keep fit so I do lots of marathons and hiking with friends.” 

Catherine is now a Permanent Resident. 

She qualified through the BC PNP stream.  She explained that “I went this route as my employer offered it right away. Many of my classmates went the express entry route, which was a smooth process as well. I think the post-graduate work permit is an advantage in some cases, but that is not the only way to stay in Canada. Using my experience as an example, I did not have to get a postgraduate work permit before I got a job offer. I was able to begin working as an RN using my study permit as part of the OMNI program, and then applied for a work permit with my job offer.”

We asked Catherine whether she feels more “Canadian” today – her response was “I guess I can consider myself more Canadian as I am more apologetic than usual. LOL!”  

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Final words from Catherine:

“I have been to other countries, but Canada remains my favourite. The air is fresh, the nature is beautiful, and the people are friendly.” ~ Catherine Ikponwosa, RN.

 

Download the full story as a PDF (Vol 9_CatherineIkponwosa)

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