I am a Canadian citizen and would like to take an RN refresher course. I passed my NCLEX in September 2013 and my Canadian RN examination in July 2014. Is it possible for me to study in the U.S. and hopefully be granted a student visa? Moreover, I have been out of the nursing field since October 2011 and would like to take a refresher course preferably in New York. Lastly, are there schools in New York that accept international students?
Dear Donna replies:
Dear Canadian RN,
Congratulations on getting your nursing license in both countries! When you talk about studying in the U.S., I’m not sure if you’re referring to a refresher course or actually getting back into college for, as an example, an MSN. I don’t think you can get a student visa for a refresher course but you should be able to get one for a regular college program. Contact some colleges you might consider attending and speak to the person who works with international students.
Regarding taking a refresher course in the U.S., you would need to be able to work as an RN in this country in order to complete the clinical portion of the course. And for that you would need at least a work visa, which you wouldn’t be able to get without a firm job offer.
For additional information and support, I would suggest that you contact CGFNS, formerly known as the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (http://www.cgfns.org/services/).
If you’re looking at approved colleges of nursing in New York that offer MSN programs, you can find them at (http://www.op.nysed.gov/prof/nurse/nurseprogs.htm). I don’t know of any that don’t accept international students.
It is also important for you to know that the hospital job market in the US, especially in most parts of New York, is very tight. There is an abundance of nurses with current hospital experience to fill those slots so hospitals are turning away candidates without recent hospital experience. And because of this situation, there are very few refresher courses being offered.
Your best bet may be to find an RN position in Canada while you continue to pursue employment opportunities in the U.S. Once employed as a nurse in Canada, you will be more marketable in the U.S. This is especially so because you do not have any recent nursing experience.
To help with the process, you can also contact an international agency that recruits nurses from Canada to the U.S. Find them by doing an Internet search.