Back to Stories

Home Sweet (New) Home

May 10, 2024

‘Friendly Manitoba’ lives up to its name as internationally recruited nurses arrive at Manitoba’s hospital

Nurses from the Internationally Educated Nurses Program (shown here with members of HSC Winnipeg’s leadership team) began arriving in Winnipeg in December 2023.

Starting a new job can be stressful at the best of times—learning to navigate a new workplace, meeting new coworkers, and, in some cases, learning new processes. Imagine doing this in a new country away from your friends, family, and everything else familiar to you. This is the case for nine nurses currently employed at HSC Winnipeg, who up until recently lived and worked halfway across the world in the Philippines.

Manitoba’s Internationally Educated Nurses Program (IENP) stands out as a beacon of inclusivity and opportunity, bridging global expertise to fulfill local health care needs. Before receiving their offer of employment, nurses are thoroughly interviewed, including a rigorous assessment, language proficiency testing, and tailored educational pathways to ensure IENs meet local levels of patient care while embracing their diverse skills and experiences.

“It shows the dedication that these nurses have; not everyone understands the work that they go through to take part in this program. It isn’t easy,” says Gillian Nattress, RN, Manager of Health Services at HSC.

Gillian Nattress presents to Internationally Educated Nurses as they begin their new roles at HSC Winnipeg.

Nattress, one of the members of the HSC leadership team that is overseeing the IEN program at HSC, sees firsthand what the nurses and their families go through as they adjust to life in a new country. The IENP helps nurses with this transition by assisting them with immigration, visas, and housing for their first three months in Manitoba. To make this welcome even warmer, the HSC Foundation is providing the nurses with gift cards for nourishment and supplies for their fresh start in Winnipeg. Thanks to the generosity of HSC Foundation donors, nurses in the IEN program will start their new lives with gift cards to purchase necessities from kitchen staples to snowsuits for their children.

“They are so appreciative to have this opportunity,” says Gillian Nattress, RN, Manager of Health Services at HSC.

Nattress recalls meeting one of the first families who arrived in our province as part of the program and how much the gift card meant to them.

“When they arrived, they only had five days until they started work. That’s five days to get settled, five days to figure out how to get around on the bus, five days to arrange for a social insurance number, which they can’t get until they land in Canada,” says Nattress. “My colleague and I brought over a hamper made up of donated items and the HSC Foundation gift card and sat and listened to their story. We heard how the kids had been taught English at a young age in preparation for the move, how the husband was planning to work remotely from his new home to support his wife’s new schedule in the hospital. You develop such a strong bond with these remarkable people.”

Staff from HSC Winnipeg welcome the Internationally Educated Nurses as they arrive at the Winnipeg Richardson International Airport.

As Manitoba continues to welcome IENs, the spirit of thankfulness and opportunity continues. “There’s a tremendous amount of gratitude that the nurses feel for being part of this initiative,” says Nattress. “They are so appreciative to have this opportunity.”


As National Nursing Week draws to a close, we recognize not only the crucial role nurses play, but also highlight the innovative program that is working to address the acute shortage of health care professionals in Manitoba. To honour a nurse at HSC this National Nursing Week, please make a donation in their name at or call 204-515-5612 or 1-800-679-8493 (toll-free).

By Heather Milne