The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Certification Program is designed specifically for first-level, general nurses educated and licensed outside the United States who wish to assess their chances of passing the U.S. registered nurse licensing exam, the NCLEX-RN® examination, and attaining licensure to practice as registered nurses within the United States.
The program is comprised of three parts: a credentials review of the nurse's education, registration, and licensure; the CGFNS Qualifying Exam, a one-day qualifying exam testing nursing knowledge; and, an English language proficiency exam. Upon successful completion of all three elements of the program, the applicant is awarded a CGFNS Certificate.
The CGFNS Certification Program is designed ONLY for first-level, general nurses educated and/or licensed outside the United States who wish to assess their chances of passing the NCLEX-RN® examination and attaining licensure to practice as registered nurses within the United States.
In order to be eligible for the program, a nurse must be properly educated and hold both initial and current registration/licensure as a first-level, general nurse as defined historically by the International Council of Nurses (ICN).
A first-level nurse is called a “registered” or “professional” nurse in most countries. A second-level nurse, often called an enrolled, vocational, practical nurse or nurse assistant, is not eligible to be licensed as a registered nurse in the U.S., and therefore, is not eligible for the Certification Program.
A general nurse must have obtained theoretical instruction and clinical practice in a variety of nursing areas. A nurse who specialized in one area without being educated and registered/licensed as a general nurse is not eligible for the CGFNS Certification Program.
Elements of the Program
The Certification Program is a three-part program, comprised of a credentials review, a one-day qualifying exam of nursing knowledge, and an English language proficiency exam. Upon successful completion of all three elements of the program, the applicant is awarded a CGFNS Certificate.
CGFNS evaluates an applicant's education and registration credentials to certify that the applicant is a first-level, general nurse, and meets all of the registration requirements to be licensed as a professional in the nursing field.
Applicants must have:
completed a senior secondary school education separate from their nursing education;
graduated from a government-approved nursing program of at least two years in length; and
received theoretical instruction and clinical practice in nursing care of the adult (including medical and surgical nursing), maternal/infant nursing care, nursing care of children, and psychiatric/mental health nursing.
Applicants must have a full and unrestricted license/registration to practice as a first-level, general nurse in the country where they completed their general nursing education, and hold a current license/registration as a first-level, general nurse.
Note: All transcripts and validations must come directly from the source agencies.
CGFNS Qualifying Exam
The CGFNS Qualifying Exam of nursing knowledge is offered during five-day test windows fourtimes a year at more than 600 locations around the world. The exam is divided into two parts with a total of 260 questions. Applicants are given two hours and 30 minutes for Part 1, which includes 150 questions. After breaking for lunch, applicants are given one hour and 50 minutes to complete Part 2, consisting of 110 questions.
The Qualifying Exam measures an applicant's nursing knowledge and is based on what nurses must know and do when they practice nursing in the United States. The foundations of the Qualifying Exam are based on patient needs. The traditional clinical areas of nursing practice -- adult nursing care, nursing care of children, maternal/infant nursing, psychiatric/mental health nursing, and community health nursing -- are covered. The exam ensures that an applicant has the same level of understanding of nursing with various client groups, in a number ofsettings, as recent graduates of U.S. schools of nursing.
Both the CGFNS Qualifying Exam and the NCLEX-RN® examination are based on the same framework of patientneeds because it provides a universal structure for defining nursing actions and competencies across all settings for all patients.
English Language Proficiency Exam
Applicants must demonstrate English language proficiency as part of the CGFNS Certification Program by submitting passing scores from an approved testing organization. Currently, applicants may take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL),either paper-based or Internet-based, administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS); the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), administered by the Chauncey Group; or, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), administered by Cambridge ESOL Examinations, the British Council and IDP Education Australia.
Applicants must successfully complete one of the English exams (TOEFL, TOEIC or IELTS) and the Qualifying Exam within a two-year period in order for test scores to be considered valid. The English exam may be taken prior to or following the CGFNS Qualifying Exam.
The minimum passing scores on each of the English proficiency exams are as follows:
TOEFL – 540 paper-based, 207computerized, and 83 Internet-based
TEOEIC – 725
IELTS – 6.5 overall
Applicants must apply directly with the appropriate testing organization in order to take one of the English language proficiency exams. Exam scores must be forwarded from the appropriate testing organization directly to CGFNS. CGFNS cannot accept test scores sent by the applicant.
Employers and organizationswith an interest in selecting candidates who have a high probability of success on the NCLEX-RN® examination will find the program highly beneficial. Nurse applicants, U.S. Boards of Registered Nurses, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, universities, and employers all make use of the CGFNS Certification Program.
Attaining a CGFNS Certificate helps applicants in three ways:
The certificate will help applicants meet state requirements for the registered nurse licensure exam. Most states require a CGFNS Certificate from nurse educated abroad before they can take the NCLEX-RN® examination.
CGFNS Certificate holders consistently have a higher rate of success on the NCLEX-RN® examination than internationally-educated nurses who do not hold a CGFNS Certificate. Passing the CGFNS Qualifying Exam can help applicants to feel reasonably assured of success on the NCLEX-RN® examination.
The CGFNS Certificate helps applicants to qualify for an occupational visa. CGFNS was named in section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 as an organization qualified to administer a screening program for healthcare professionals who are seeking an occupational visa. The International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), a division of CGFNS, developed VisaScreen ™: Visa Credentials Assessment to meet the requirements of section 343. For foreign-educated nurses who do not hold a U.S. license by examination, passing a predictor exam, such as the CGFNS Qualifying Exam, is a requirement of section 343. For more information about the CGFNS certificate program, please check its website www.cgfns.org.
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