Skip to main content

Grand River Hospital program is turning nursing students into staff members

For National Nursing Week, CTV Kitchener is going inside Waterloo region hospitals to hear from nurses themselves. In part two of our three-part Commitment to Care series, we visit Grand River Hospital to meet an internationally-trained nurse who found employment through a unique program.

Harjeet Brar is in her element, working at Grand River Hospital’s Freeport Campus.

Trained as a nurse in India, she got her license to begin working as registered nurse in Canada last month.

"The machines that we use back in India are different from here," says Harjeet Brar, explaining how she updated skills using the clinical extern program at Grand River Hospital. (Spencer Turcotte/CTV Kitchener)

“I'm working at the same unit where I did my practical hours,” Brar said.

To begin working in Canada, she needed to update her skills – and that’s where Grand River Hospital came in.

The hospital’s “clinical extern” program pairs nursing students and internationally-trained nurses with a registered nurse as a way to learn, and to fulfill their training hour requirements.

Dorcas Ndiangui is one of the Grand River Hospital nurses students are paired with.

She teaches them necessary skills, but in the case of international nurses, the lessons are shared.

“They come in with a vast [amount] of knowledge that they bring into the program that we utilize,” Ndiangui said.

Dorcas Ndiangui, who helps teach internationally-trained nurses at Grand River Hospital, says she also learns from them. (Spencer Turcotte/CTV Kitchener)

Often the training leads to a job.

“We definitely hire a lot of clinical externs who graduate and finish the program and we often hire them here at positions to Grand River Hospital,” said clinical extern manager Kristina Vieth.

Brar said programs like this are one way to address the staffing issues in the healthcare system.

“There are so many international nurses that are already in Canada but they don't know where they can go to pursue more education to meet their criteria,” Brar said.

Fellow nurses seem to agree.

“[It’s] the future, the future of nursing,” Ndiangui said. Top Stories

Stay Connected