PLAR in Nursing: Implications of Situated Learning, Communities of Practice and Consequential Transition Theories for Recognition



The under-utilization of recently arrived immigrants is almost an accepted fact in Canada. A persistent problem is the non-recognition of prior learning (e.g. competencies) of immigrant professionals. Based on findings of a research study, the purpose of this article is to examine possible reasons for the non-recognition of immigrant nurses' prior learning in the province of Ontario. The theoretical concepts of situated learning, communities of practice and consequential transition are explored for their relevance to the question, ‘why is recognition so difficult to achieve?’ These concepts coupled with an inductive thematic analysis of prior learning assessment and recognition (PLAR) candidates' perspectives on nursing, PLAR and their role as professionals are combined to identify possible explanations and their implications. Findings suggest that, in the absence of some form of assessment, transition and recognition process, individuals located outside the periphery of legitimate participation are powerless to negotiate the meaning of their knowledge and skills. Internationally educated nurses who bring competencies acquired in cultures and educational systems unfamiliar to Canadian authorities stand outside the periphery of the nursing community without a place or voice in the discourse. The findings also suggest that if labour force development and professional integration are public goals, the full engagement of the nursing community of practice (including internationally educated nurses and the regulatory body) is necessary for the development of a shared understanding of PLAR, its quality and its outcomes.


Prior learning Assessment Recognition Nurses Situated learning Consequential transitions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.TorontoCanada
  2. 2.ParisFrance

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