A Web-Based Tool for Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition of Nursing Degree Equivalency: The Internationally Educated Nurses Experiences and Responses

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Elaine E. Santa Mina, PhD, RN, BA, BAAN, MSc
Faculty of Community Services School of Nursing, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: Describe the purpose and components of an online tool for assessment of nursing degree equivalency for IENs

Learning Objective 2: Describe the IEN subjective experiences of the using the online tool and their benchmark responses on three nursing competencies that demonstrate degree equivalency

Purpose: Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) seek registration as Registered Nurses in Ontario, Canada. The entry to practice is a nursing baccalaureate degree or equivalence. Without degree credentials, most IENs, must retake an RN degree program, to be eligible to write the Canadian Registered Nurse Exam (CRNE). This study tests an online tool that assesses degree competency at the entry to practice level, of the typical RN, IEN, and develops benchmark competency responses. These benchmarks will become the objective assessment to determine CRNE eligibility. This study describes the participants’ responses and experiences in completion of the online instrument.
Methods: The Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing and the Gateway Project in the G. Raymond Chang School for Continuing Education, Ryerson University, developed a web-based Prior Learning, Assessment and Recognition tool (PLAR), to assess IEN experiential learning.  This mixed methods design measures quantitatively the demographic data, self- assessment responses for the standards of nursing practice, (based upon the College of Nurses 2007 Competencies), and a multiple choice examination. The qualitative component includes participant written responses to two clinical vignettes, and the participants’ experiences in completion of the online instrument. The analyses compare individual and aggregate participant PLAR online self-assessment responses to those expected of a baccalaureate RN.  Analysis results create benchmark responses of baccalaureate IEN RN entry to practice.
Results: The preliminary results of IEN RN responses are presented to demonstrate the development of benchmark responses for degree equivalency. The benchmark responses provide the competency content for future reliability and validity testing of this tool. The IEN experience in completion of an online PLAR tool suggests promise and enthusiasm as an alternative to demonstrate degree equivalence.
Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of development of a reliable and valid online tool to assess nursing degree equivalence for IENs.