Edmonton, Alberta (February 12, 2024) — The Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) is pleased to announce a significant funding commitment from the Government of Alberta (GoA) for the second application cycle of the Bursary for Internationally Educated Nurses (BIEN) program. This funding will provide vital support for internationally educated nurses, already living in Alberta, to complete a bridging program and practice in rural and underserved communities.
The BIEN program is a key piece of our partnership with the GoA to enhance healthcare access in rural areas and provide funding to internationally educated nurses in Alberta as they complete the bridging training required to practise as a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. In exchange for the funding, applicants commit to a return-in-service period spent working in rural Alberta following the completion of their bridging program. Internationally educated nurses bring crucial skills and experience to the healthcare sector, which will add significant value to rural healthcare teams.
RhPAP administered the initial funding cycle of the program in partnership with the GoA in April 2023. The first cycle of the BIEN program supported 74 learners from participating schools, the first of whom will complete their training and enter the rural healthcare workforce early next year. This new funding commitment that aligns with the second cycle of the program will enable the expansion of the BIEN program and provide a much greater number of opportunities for internationally educated nurses to complete their bridging training.
The program offers a bursary of up to $30,000 per learner. The bursary includes a fixed incentive to cover associated fees, along with funding to support living expenses, and a portion of tuition based on the training program’s length. Participating post-secondary institutions that provide a bridging program for internationally educated nurses include Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, NorQuest College, and MacEwan University.
RhPAP understands the challenges faced by rural communities in attracting and retaining healthcare professionals. Internationally trained nurses are critical in addressing these workforce shortages while bringing diverse perspectives and experiences to rural healthcare teams.
“Alberta’s government is proud to support the Bursary for Internationally Educated Nurses. This significant funding reaffirms our commitment to strengthening rural health care through the invaluable contributions of internationally educated nurses, ensuring equitable access for all communities.” – Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health
“Internationally educated nurses play an important role in strengthening the wellbeing of Albertans, the economy, and our communities. That’s why Alberta’s government is investing $7.8 million annually to fund non-repayable financial assistance for internationally educated nurses. This bursary helps reduce barriers for internationally educated nurses to come to Alberta so they can thrive here and help meet the need for more nurses in our health care system.” – Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education
“We’re excited to announce the next cycle for the BIEN program. This program underscores our dedication to improving healthcare access in rural areas and recognizes the valuable contribution of internationally educated nurses. We believe this program will be instrumental in ensuring that rural communities continue to have access to high-quality healthcare services.” – Tracy Sopkow, Chief Executive Officer, RhPAP
RhPAP encourages eligible internationally educated nurses, who are currently in Alberta, and interested in the BIEN program to visit our website RhPAP.ca/BIEN for detailed information on the application process, eligibility criteria, and program benefits.
For media inquiries or additional information about the Rural Health Professions Action Plan and the BIEN program, please contact:
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Rural Health Professions Action Plan
The Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) is dedicated to supporting and enhancing the delivery of healthcare services in rural and underserved communities in Alberta, Canada. RhPAP collaborates with health-care professionals, communities, and stakeholders to address healthcare workforce challenges and ensure that rural residents have access to quality healthcare services.