The UHN IEN program offers the opportunity for participants to demonstrate mastery of entry to practice nursing skills. IENs are provided enhanced supervised practice experience that enables them to apply nursing knowledge, skill and judgment and become familiar with the Ontario health practice environment and culture, while working in a variety of contexts with patients of diverse backgrounds, ages, and degrees of health/illness. They are provided support, guidance and feedback by dedicated preceptors and Advanced Practice Nurse Educators to ensure their success.

While we have hosted for years IENs completing their Ontario nursing programs, in 2021 UHN participated in a pilot with CARE – Centre for Internationally Educated Nurse – to offer IENs the opportunity to update their practice to meet their final "Evidence of Practice" registration. This requirement was met by providing a relevant enhanced supervised practice experience of 400 hours that enabled applicants to apply nursing knowledge, skill and judgement; receive guidance and feedback; and demonstrate that they possessed the current knowledge, skill and judgement required to safely practice nursing in Ontario.

April Lim worked as agency nurse at UHN where staff encouraged her to apply for a role at UHN. She had also heard that at UHN there was lots of support and worked at the COVID Assessment Centre. When an opportunity came to complete her SPEP for RN license, April decided to proceed and completed the SPEP in the Transplant Program, where she is now on staff. April is considering future opportunities to work in the ACU or ICU.


The overarching framework of the onboarding process is illustrated below:

Recruit & Coordinate
Potential Onboarding

Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP) at UHN

In January 2022, UHN partnered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) and Ontario Health (OH) to participate in The Supervised Practice Experience Partnership Program (SPEP). The SPEP program provides paid, supervised work placements for IEN Learners. This partnership provides an opportunity for eligible applicants to complete their supervised practice experience in Ontario; and creates an opportunity for IENs to demonstrate current nursing knowledge, skill and judgement and language proficiency skills for practice in Ontario.

At UHN, the SPEP program provides each IEN learner with a minimum of 140 supervised hours. As each learner's needs will differ, we provide up to 300 hours to demonstrate of safe practice. The program includes an assigned preceptor who provides supervision, support and professional development throughout their learning experience. The end goal is successful completion and licensure through the CNO as either a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).

Ireen Therese Alovera was encouraged by all of the support she receive. Being new to the Canadian health system is anxiety-provoking but having resources, APNE and other supports helped alleviate her anxiety. Ireen liked that UHN policies are updated constantly and allowed her and other staff to feel "safe".

Measuring Success

We optimized the opportunities with the New Graduate Guarantee (NGG) program to further support our IEN candidate. Funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MoHLTC) to support new graduate nurses in finding full-time employment opportunities and guide their transition into practice was used to ensure newly hired IENs completed an additional 12 weeks of orientation to new graduates. Using the NGG program, we achieved, for IENs, the overarching program goals to:

  • Support new nurses in Ontario as they transition into practice;
  • Improve the integration of new nurses into the workforce;
  • Promote the availability of permanent, full-time employment for new nurses; and
  • Promote health workforce planning at the organizational level
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