You are on page 1of 5

What is a Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC) assessment

Under the Health Professionals Act (HPA) legislation in Alberta, the College and Association of
Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) may require Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) to
have a Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC) assessment completed. SEC assessment is a
means of maintaining the standards of practice between IENs and Canadian educated nurses
through the professional regulator (CARNA).
An SEC Assessment is an evaluation that uses a variety of strategies to assess the IEN's
professional knowledge, skills, attributes, values, and judgment. The different strategies
(described below) draw out whether the IEN currently possesses the CARNA Entry to Practice
competencies (click on Competency Profile for Registered Nurses on the
CARNA site) to fulfill the roles and responsibilities of the expected RN scope of practice in the
Canadian health care system. The SEC Assessment will also identify where competency
strengths, gaps or areas requiring growth exist. The SEC assessment is used to determine if IENs
are prepared to provide safe, ethical and competent nursing care according to Canadian RN
scope of practice expectations. The assessment includes the complexities of nursing practice
(holistic care) and Primary Health Care principles and approaches. The SEC assessment
provides IENs the opportunity to demonstrate their capacity for Canadian RN scope of practice
in a way that complements the evidence provided in the paper documentation provided to
An IEN may be referred by CARNA for an assessment in any (or all) of the following areas:
General Nursing
Maternal Newborn Health Nursing
Child Health Nursing
Mental Health Nursing
A "Complete" SEC assessment takes 4.5 days and comprehensively assesses knowledge and
practice in general medical-surgical-community health, maternal-newborn health, child health,
and mental health nursing. A "General" SEC assessment takes 2 days and assesses knowledge
and practice in a variety of settings (medical-surgical-community health, as well as some focused
(specialty) health. A "Focus" SEC assessment takes 1-3 days and assesses knowledge specific to
Maternal-Newborn Health, Child Health, and/or Mental Health.
To have a SEC assessment completed, you must first:
have an e-mailed referral or letter referral from CARNA indicating the need for an assessment
and which type of SEC assessment(s).
have met CARNA approved English language requirements
review the IEN Assessment Centre Candidate Consent for Disclosure of Personal Information to
consent to share your identifiable SEC assessment results with CARNA and consent to non-

identifiable SEC assessment results to be used for research and statistical purposes. This consent
is to be reviewed in advance, and then signed by you at the IEN Assessment Centre where your
signature will be witnessed by the Centre front office staff prior to starting your SEC assessment.
review the IEN Assessment Centre Candidate Confidentiality Agreement to consent to
confidentiality of the SEC assessment content. This agreement is to be reviewed in advance, and
then signed by you at the IEN Assessment Centre where your signature will be witnessed by the
Centre front office staff prior to starting your SEC assessment.
review the IEN Assessment Centre Candidate Consent for Audio and/or Visual Recording to
agree to possible audio and/or visual recording of all or parts of the SEC assessment
components. This consent form is also to be reviewed in advance, and then signed by you at the
IEN Assessment Centre where your signature will be witnessed by the Centre front office
The SEC assessment uses the following five strategies developed at Mount Royal University to
evaluate the entry-to-practice competencies of registered nurses:
Written Multiple Choice and Short Answer Exams
Clinical Judgment Assessment
A modified Triple Jump Assessment
A modified Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
IEN Candidate Self-Assessment
Written Exams
The written exams include both paper and pencil multiple choice and short answer questions that
will test the general and focused (specialty) nursing theoretical knowledge required of
professional nurses in Canada.
The General multiple choice and short answer exam is seven (7) hours with a break between the
two halves.
Each focused (specialty) exam is three and a half (3.5) hours.
Clinical Judgment Assessment
The Clinical Judgment Assessment is an interview style assessment that evaluates your ability to
make sound clinical judgments in situations that are complex and have no "simple" answers.
These clinical judgment situations will assess the ability of the candidate to think deliberately
and critically through a nursing situation, apply essential and relevant knowledge, consider
possibilities and options and take reasoned, reflective and insightful decisions and actions.
The following resource may help you to prepare for this portion of the SEC assessment. Please
note that the clinical judgment structure in the example scenarios on this website are not

necessarily exactly like the clinical judgment scenarios during the SEC assessment as they vary
from one to the next. These are examples only of clinical judgment types of interviews.
Clinical Judgment Self Assessment
Modified Triple Jump Assessment
Problem solving and critical thinking skills are tested using an assessment interview called the
Triple Jump. In a triple jump assessment, there are 3 themes: identify client issues/problems,
select relevant interventions, and provide evaluation strategies. In the interview, candidates will
be presented with a brief client situation and asked to:
generate a problem list/hypotheses about the clients situation
identify and collect relevant data about the client/family
revise his/her problem list based on the data
develop an intervention/management plan
The process will assess knowledge, problem-solving, critical thinking, organizational, client
assessment and self-evaluation skills, as well as self-directed learning abilities.
This website includes an on-line introduction to a Triple Jump Self Assessment interview that
may help you prepare for this portion of the SEC assessment. This resource provides the
opportunity to test yourself on selected portions of the assessment in preparation for a "modified"
version of a Triple Jump assessment that will be conducted during your SEC assessment. The
structure of this preparation example is not exactly the same as the actual modified Triple Jump
assessments that are conducted during SEC assessments. However, this example may assist you
in your preparation studies. Please note that in the actual modified triple jump SEC assessment
component, you will not be provided with resources or research time to look up the answers.
Modified Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)
This one to three day assessment is conducted in a lab setting, where a candidate will role play
the nurse in response to client/family health situations and demonstrate his or her abilities to
apply knowledge by holistically caring for this client/family. The client may be a simulation
mannequin or a person playing the client role. The OSCE is used to assess the following
knowledge and skills:
nurse-client interactions and relationships
critical thinking and clinical judgment skills
health assessment frameworks and nursing skills
ethical decision making skills
pharmacology and pathophysiology

rapidly changing patient situations

delivery of nursing interventions and evaluation.
Self-assessment of CARNAs Nursing Practice Standards
Candidates will have the opportunity to provide a self-assessment by using the CARNA Nursing
Practice Standards to analyze their past nursing practice and offer specific individualized
examples from his/her country(ies) of origin/practice. This analysis of one's own practice will
help the assessor to assess the candidate's insight regarding their areas of strength and areas
requiring growth.
CARNA's Nursing Practice Standards can be found at
The Assessor, the Analysis, and the Report
During the SEC assessment, the assessor observes for required key performance indicators of
knowledge, skills, values, and attributes expected in the Entry-to-Practice competencies. The
assessor observes for accuracy, completeness, quality, frequency, depth, independence,
and consistency in performance. The assessor looks for patterns in IEN performance, looks at
the "whole picture", not isolated elements.
At no time during the SEC assessment is the assessor able to discuss or give the IEN feedback on
his/her performance. All decisions and feedback to the IEN is given by the regulator (CARNA)
following receipt of the SEC assessment report.
After the assessment is complete, the assessor uses all the assessment tool criteria and descriptors
to analyze the IEN's performance according to the competency expectations. Assessors make
determinations on each of the Entry-to-Practice competencies as to whether the IEN "met", "high
partially met", "low partially met", or "did not meet" the competency based on performance on
all the tools. The analysis is then written into a rich summary report that offers the substantiating
evidence for the determinations, including examples of patterns of performance that support the
SEC Assessment Results
The SEC assessment report is then sent to the regulator (CARNA) to assist with their decision
making on how to proceed with the application for registration. You can expect to hear from
CARNA in 3-5 weeks after your assessment. The regulator reviews the report as part of the
IEN's application, along with the documentation provided by the IEN to determine if the IEN is:
eligible for a temporary practice permit, and to write the Canadian Registered Nurse
Examination (CRNE)
suitable for bridging courses for registered nursing in Canada
in need of further assessment of the IEN (if a Complete SEC assessment was not performed)

ineligible for licensure at this time, due to the extent of the areas requiring growth in nursing
knowledge and/or practice.
What You Can Do to Prepare for Your SEC Assessment:
Become familiar with the assessment strategies information on this website so that you know
what to expect in a similar SEC assessment.Work through the sample Clinical Judgment
Scenarios and Triple Jump scenario links on this website for study purposes (remembering that
the actual Modified Triple Jump assessment will not involve references or leaving the room).
Refer to CARNA (under Resources) to review the CARNA Entry to Practice
Competencies and CARNA Nursing Practice Standards to help yourself understand the scope
of RN practice in Canada and to help with your analysis of your own nursing practice.
Review Primary Health Care (PHC) in relation to the principles and expected nursing
Refer to Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) to review the CNA Code of Ethics document.
Review current nursing textbook(s) (published within past 5 years), that cover the knowledge,
practices, and procedures of medical-surgical-community nursing practice.
If you are referred for a focused (specialty) assessment, you would also benefit from reviewing a
current textbook in maternal-newborn health, child health, and/or mental health nursing.
Access a Canadian Registered Nurses Exam (CRNE) preparatory book to review expected
An optional OSCE preparation resource is the Nursing Picture Dictionary Tutorial to familiarize yourself with Canadian health care equipment and
supplies that you could be exposed to in your OSCE assessments.
If applicable, place yourself into as many English language situations as possible to improve
your English speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.