CBNC serves IENs who are legal residents or U.S. citizens, and not licensed in Illinois. While the consortium serves IENs from all countries, the majority of our nurses are Hispanic, from Mexico, Central and South America. These nurses are frequently under employed; their education and previous practice in nursing is not recognized. Integration of these nurses into the local workforce will help to address the shortage of bilingual, bicultural RNs in Illinois as well as address the needs of our growing multicultural patient population for culturally sensitive, quality healthcare. Our candidates have experience in nursing that is unique to their own country. However, they need specialized assistance and support throughout the process of becoming licensed RNs in Illinois as this process can take between 18 and 36 months to complete. CBNC provides programs and services to assist them in learning the cultural, social, political and professional issues of American nursing and preparing them for the licensure exam (NCLEX-RN). We also partner with other organizations to assist IENs with the licensing process.

Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) frequently need ESL courses and assistance in navigating the various official systems and completing the necessary paper work for the registered nurse licensure exam (NCLEX-RN). This advising and counseling is an intense, continuous process as IENs have frequently received differing or erroneous information and often do not have a clear understanding of the RN
licensure process in the United States and Illinois. Currently the Chicago Bilingual Nurse Consortium (CBNC) is the only centralized resource in Illinois that offers support services and programs to assist IENs complete the required paper work and prepare for the NCLEX (The registered nurse licensure exam).

We work collaboratively with other educational institutions and health care organizations in addressing the needs of students or staff who are IENs.

• Assists IENs in locating English as Second Language (ESL) programs in Chicago
and surrounding communities;

• Informs IENs of the various regulatory components for professional licensure as a
nurse in the State of Illinois;

• Provides necessary CGFNS application forms and/or contacts to initiate the
CGFNS evaluation process of academic documents from country of origin;

• Employs a continuous advisement process (follow-up) for each IEN through
successful completion of all requirements for professional licensure as a nurse
in the state;

• Identifies and seeks healthcare agencies willing to support IENs in the process of
becoming gainfully employed in the workforce;

• Advocates with local, state, and international government bodies and/or their
representatives on behalf of IENs

Requirements for Licensure of Internationally Educated Nurses in the State of Illinois

1. CES Report: The “Credential Evaluation Service” a Healthcare Profession and Science Course by Course Report must be obtained through the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). Contact CGFNS at (215) 349-8767 ext. 476 or at Education Records Evaluation Service (ERES, Inc. ) is now also accepted as an evaluation provider by the State of Illinois. Contact ERES, Inc. at

2. TOEFL: The “Test of English as a Foreign Language” (TOEFL) is the only English test accepted for professional licensure in Illinois. Effective January 1, 2006 a minimum passing score of 220 is required on the TOEFL computer based exam or a score of 83 on the internet based test (iBT). Contact TOEFL at or further information. TOEFL is not required if you submit verification of the successful completion of a nursing education program conducted in English. TOEFL results must be sent directly to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional regulation in Springfield, IL.

3. NCLEX: Copies of the application can be printed off the IDFPR web site at or by calling (217) 782-8556. Request an “Application by Exam for RN”, and provide the name and address you would like the application sent to.

If you are an IEN and are licensed in another state the following are the requirements for licensure by endorsement:

A) a credentials evaluation report of the applicant's foreign nursing education from one of the following Division-approved credentialing services:
i) Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Credentials
Evaluation Service (CES);
ii) Educational Records Evaluation Service

B) if the applicant's first language is not English, certification of passage of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum passing score on the paper-based test is 560, computer-based test is 220, and internet-based test is 83. The Division may, upon recommendation from an approved credentials evaluation service, waive the requirement that the applicant pass the TOEFL examination if the applicant submits verification of the successful completion of a nursing education program conducted in English or the passage of an approved licensing examination given in English;

CBNC offers a variety of Educational Programs:

Conversations in Nursing: Appreciating Cultural Differences
This course engages nursing colleagues from around the world in discussions aimed at increasing awareness and appreciation of various cultural differences and similarities among patients and healthcare professionals.  The participants will become acquainted with nurses who were educated in other countries and the rationale for methods used in caring for patients, as well as communicating with the health team. IENs have an opportunity to practice English with their nursing colleagues as they dialogue about topics important to professional nursing practice and safe patient care.

TOEFL Workshops
CBNC offers a five-part series/workshops covering all sections of the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Students will practice with sample tests, learn strategies for each section and get answers to all TOEFL questions.

In order to enroll for the TOEFL Workshops candidates must have completed of an ESL course at level 5 or better and be an internationally educated nurse.

NCLEX Preparation Course:
This course is designed to assist nurses educated in foreign countries to succeed in meeting the requirements for nursing practice in the United States and the state of Illinois. Using the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Assessment-Driven Review program, students will identify their strengths and limitations, develop a study plan, work independently, and participate in collaborative dialogue to prepare for the NCLEX licensing exam.

In order to enroll in the course candidates must have completed the TOEFL exam with a score of 83 or greater or completed an ESL course at level or better; submitted an application to CGFNS for certificate of credentials. (Note: Completion of NCSBN learning extension course: "Acclimation of International Nurses into the U.S. Nursing Practice" is also helpful.)

Financial assistance for these courses is available based on need.


Upcoming Training and Events

Conversations in Nursing:
Appreciating Cultural Differences
Fridays, October 7- November 4, 2016

Pharmacology Workshop
Spring 2017 Dates to be announced

NCLEX-RN Peer Seminar
Spring 2017 Date to be announced

NCLEX-RN Preparation Course
Spring 2017 Dates to be announced

For more information please contact CBNC at 312-567-2065 or by email at