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FAQs: Internationally Educated Nurses Competency Assessment Program

General

What is the Internationally Educated Nurses Competency Assessment Program?  

The Internationally Educated Nurses Competency Assessment Program (IENCAP) is an evaluation that enables you to demonstrate the nursing knowledge, skill and judgment you obtained from your nursing education and experience. 
It consists of two components:

  • multiple-choice questionnaire
  • Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

How do I apply for the IENCAP?

You must be referred by the College. If you do not meet the education requirement based on an assessment of your nursing education and any experience, the College will send your name and email contact information to Touchstone Institute.

How much does it cost?

The cost of the evaluation is $400 payable to Touchstone. This is separate from other application and registration fees the College requires.

Do I have to complete the IENCAP if the College tells me I have gaps in my competencies?

No one has to take the IENCAP if they don’t want to. However, if the College finds you are eligible for the IENCAP and you refuse to take it, the College will not be able to determine whether you meet the nursing education requirement.

If you opt to complete other nursing education instead of the IENCAP (such as an Ontario baccalaureate degree or other nursing courses), the College will review them to determine if they meet the nursing education requirement.

However, if you still have competency gaps, you will be required to complete the IENCAP to proceed with your application.

What if I don’t finish the IENCAP?

It is important to be prepared to take the IENCAP. If you arrive at the evaluation centre on the day of your assessment, and you feel you are not able to complete any part of the IENCAP for any reason, do not begin the IENCAP. Before the test starts, tell a Touchstone examiner that you are not able to participate and contact the College for further instructions. If you withdraw before starting any part of the evaluation, you will be permitted to reschedule at another date.

If you start the evaluation but are unable to continue, tell a Touchstone examiner. They will document your reasons for withdrawing and send this information to the College. The evaluation will be considered incomplete and results will not be provided to you. As well, your application will be referred to the College’s Registration Committee for review. The committee will ask you to explain why you could not complete the IENCAP. It will also decide whether to allow you to take the IENCAP again. Note: even if you finish one component (such as the multiple-choice questionnaire) but not the other (such as the OSCE), you will be required to complete both components again if the Registration Committee permits.

I am not currently living in Canada. How do I obtain a travel visa to enter Canada for my IENCAP?

Contact the Canadian Embassy, High Commission or consulate in your country of residence, for information about applying for a visa. If necessary, Touchstone Institute can issue a Letter of Participation for your visa application.

Objective Structured Clinical Examination

What is an Objective Structured Clinical Examination?

An Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) is an assessment that allows applicants to demonstrate their nursing knowledge, skill and judgment in a simulated clinical setting.

The OSCE is conducted by Touchstone Institute. During the OSCE, applicants rotate between stations, interacting with “patients” who present with different symptoms or injuries. At the start of each station, you will receive a written statement about the situation and the task you must complete. At the end of the timed session, an examiner will ask you two or three questions about the case, while another assessor takes notes in a separate room.

Why does the College use an OSCE to assess applicants?

An OSCE allows applicants with real-life nursing practice experience and/or education to demonstrate their knowledge, skill and judgment in a setting that is as close as possible to real-life clinical experiences they would face as a nurse in Ontario. It provides a clearer picture of an applicant’s nursing education and experience than a paper-based assessment.

What areas of skill and knowledge does the OSCE assess?

The OSCE is based on Competencies for Entry-Level Registered Nurse practice, which includes all the competencies that a practising Canadian nurse is expected to possess.

The OSCE may include clinical content from the following areas:

  • ambulatory care
  • community/public health
  • complex continuing care
  • emergency care
  • geriatrics
  • intensive/critical care
  • medical
  • mental health
  • obstetrics
  • paediatric and adolescent health
  • palliative care
  • rehabilitation
  • surgical

Preparing for the IENCAP

How do I prepare for the IENCAP?

It is important to ensure you are ready to take the evaluation. HealthForceOntario offers preparation courses for the IENCAP. There are also schools in Ontario that offer courses, including OSCE practice sessions. The College does not endorse any courses run by private operators claiming to help nurses become registered in Ontario.

The IENCAP assesses the nursing knowledge, skill and judgment you developed through your nursing education and nursing experience. While preparation courses may help you understand the OSCE process or how to write a multiple-choice questionnaire, you must be able to demonstrate the required nursing competencies. The IENCAP will touch on many areas of your foundational knowledge including the sciences and humanities, as well as your ability to communicate.

Communication is a key part of the OSCE. This includes:

  • reading charts or notes related to health issues
  • participating in a conversation with a patient or another health professional
  • completing a health assessment to take a history
  • documenting care provided
  • discussing the specifics of a health scenario

Your ability to complete the evaluation can be affected by challenges in communicating effectively in English. You should arrive at the testing centre confident that you can read, write, listen and speak English at a level that allows you to practise nursing safely in Ontario. You should be prepared to read, comprehend and answer questions in the multiple-choice questionnaire. Visit the Touchstone Institute website for communication resources available through various organizations.

To help you prepare, you can also:

IENCAP Evaluation

How is the IENCAP used as part of the College’s evaluation?

The College reviews the results from both the multiple-choice test and OSCE sections of the IENCAP. It uses them to determine whether you have nursing knowledge, skill and judgment for each of the required competencies.

SINCE JANUARY 2016, THE IENCAP HAS A NEW EVALUATION FORMAT:

Touchstone will provide the College with a report that assigns one of three achievement levels to each competency category as follows:

Demonstrated Established equivalence to entry-to-practice RN

Partially Demonstrated

Remediation necessary (requires input from available programs for customization)

Not Demonstrated

Retraining required (equivalent to enrolling in Canadian nursing program)

Multiple-choice questionnaire
The multiple-choice questionnaire addresses the following competency categories:

  • Professional Responsibility and Accountability
  • Service to the Public
  • Self-Regulation

OSCE
The OSCE addresses the following competency categories:

  • Knowledge-Based Practice
    • Specialized Body of Knowledge
    • Competent Application of Knowledge
  • Ethical Practice

To meet the competencies associated with a specific category in the IENCAP, you must achieve the Demonstrated level in either the OSCE or multiple-choice questionnaire for that category. (The exception to this is the Specialized Body of Knowledge category, which you achieve if you gain a certain overall OSCE score.)

Competency gaps are identified if you achieve “Partially Demonstrated” or “Not Demonstrated” in a category.
The scores associated with the levels are:

Level of Competence OSCE MCQ
Demonstrated More than, or equal to, 3.5 (out of 5) More than, or equal to, 68%
Partially Demonstrated  Between 1.5 and 3.49 Between 29.8% and 67.99%
Not Demonstrated  Less than 1.5 Less than 29.8%

Note: The Specialized Body of Knowledge category is not evaluated as a separate category by the OSCE or the multiple-choice questionnaire. Instead, it is the basis for your knowledge in the other competency categories. As a result:

  • If your total OSCE score is equal to, or greater than, 3.50, you will have demonstrated all competencies associated with Specialized Body of Knowledge.
  • If your total OSCE score is less than 3.50, then the competency gaps identified after the review of your nursing education and practice will remain.

IF YOU COMPLETED THE IENCAP BEORE JANUARY 2016:

Multiple-choice questionnaire
The multiple-choice questionnaire used five competency categories:

  • Professional Responsibility and Accountability
  • Knowledge-Based Practice: Specialized Body of Knowledge
  • Ethical Practice
  • Service to the Public
  • Self-Regulation

The College will consider the percentage of correct items in each category. You must score 80% or higher in a category to demonstrate that competency.

OSCE
The OSCE used four competency categories:

  • Professional Responsibility and Accountability
  • Knowledge Based Practice – Competent Application of Knowledge
  • Ethical Practice
  • Service to the Public

You must achieve an overall score of four or higher (out of five) in a competency category. For competency categories that were evaluated by both the OSCE and multiple-choice questionnaire, you must achieve the required scores on both components.

I passed my jurisprudence exam. Can I use that to show I have met some of the competencies the IENCAP assessed?

No. The purpose of the jurisprudence exam is to assess your knowledge of the laws and regulations that govern the nursing profession in Ontario. It is not an evaluation tool. Therefore, it cannot be used to show how you have addressed gaps in your RN entry-to-practice competencies.

Nursing education is a separate requirement that you meet by showing the College you have nursing knowledge, skill and judgment equivalent to that of a current graduate of a Canadian university baccalaureate degree nursing program. If the College can’t determine that you meet the education requirement based on a review of your nursing education alone, you will be asked to complete the IENCAP.

Your IENCAP results will help the College determine if your combined education and nursing experience provided you with the nursing knowledge, skill and judgment that Ontario nurses require. A written jurisprudence exam does not allow you to demonstrate your nursing knowledge, skill and judgment in a comprehensive evaluation.

After the IENCAP

What happens after I finish the IENCAP?

About eight weeks after you complete the IENCAP, your results will be sent to the College. Then, the College will review the information to determine if you have met the nursing education requirement:

MEETS THE REQUIREMENT

You will receive a letter confirming you are eligible to write the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) registration exam (if you have not already passed the NCLEX).

DOES NOT MEET THE REQUIREMENT

The College will send you a list of your competency gaps. You will be asked to complete additional education to address them before you can proceed with your application.

Can I appeal my evaluation results?

Yes. If you do not agree that you must complete additional education, you can ask the College’s Registration Committee to review the results. You will be asked to:

  • explain why you disagree with the assessment results
  • provide evidence of your education and experience
  • show how the IENCAP results and your other information demonstrate you have the required nursing knowledge, skill and judgment equivalent to that of a graduate of an approved Canadian university baccalaureate degree nursing program
Page last reviewed January 16, 2017