Company Milestones


How the Story Began

In the late 1960s, the United States experienced an increase in nurse migration from other countries. A high proportion of these nurses could not pass the U.S. nurse licensure exam, resulting in isolation and exploitation in lower paying jobs. Key policymakers were assembled to review two national studies recommending the creation of a screening examination for foreign-educated nurses preceding migration.


Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS) Created

Founded by the American Nurses Association (ANA) and the National League for Nursing (NLN), with primary funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS), Inc. was created to evaluate, test, and certify foreign-educated nurses. CGFNS continues to operate as an independent, non-profit, immigration neutral organization in Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Founding Executive Director Adele Herwitz, MSN, RN, Appointed

Adele Herwitz, MSN, RN, and Executive Director of the International Council of Nurses, returned to the U.S. to lead CGFNS in the groundbreaking development of an assessment program for foreign-educated nurses migrating to practice in the U.S. Ms. Herwitz retired in 1987.


Certification Program for Foreign-Educated Nurses Developed

CGFNS created a three-part Certification Program (credentials review and primary source verification; a test of nursing knowledge—the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®; and English language proficiency) for first-level, general, foreign-educated nurses. The first CGFNS Qualifying Exam® tested 1,200 nurses in 31 locations around the world. Since then, over 500,000 nurses educated in 160 countries have taken the CGFNS Qualifying Exam®.


Validity of CGFNS Qualifying Exam® Demonstrated

The CGFNS Validity Study validated the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® as a predictor of success for the NCLEX-RN® examination. Nurses who pass the Qualifying Exam® on the first try continue to have an 85-92% likelihood of passing the NCLEX-RN® examination.


Executive Director Virginia M. Maroun, MSN, RN, Appointed

Virginia M. Maroun, MSN, RN served as Executive Director from 1988 through 1997. During her tenure, the organization experienced significant growth with over 30,000 applicants taking the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® in a given year.


Credentials Evaluation Service® Established

The Credentials Evaluation Service® (CES) was established to analyze the education and licensure of an applicant earned outside of the terms of comparability to U.S. standards.


Trade NAFTA Opportunities Probed in Trilateral Initiative for North American Nursing

CGFNS coordinated a coalition of nursing leaders from across Canada, Mexico and the U.S. to assess North American nursing under the Trilateral Initiative for North American Nursing. Funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Initiative represented one of the first organized efforts by a healthcare profession to identify and examine the challenges and opportunities presented by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).


Federal Screening Program for Foreign-Educated Healthcare Professionals Authorized

CGFNS was authorized to screen and certify foreign-educated healthcare professionals seeking occupational visas under Section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). CGFNS is the only organization currently authorized to screen and certify all healthcare professions covered under the Act.


VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Program Created

CGFNS created a new division, the International Commission on Healthcare Professions (ICHP), for the administration of its VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Program for foreign-born healthcare professionals seeking U.S. occupational visas.


Executive Director and CEO Barbara L. Nichols, DHL, MS, Appointed

Barbara L. Nichols, DHL, MS, RN, FAAN was appointed Executive Director and CEO after serving on the CGFNS Board of Trustees, and as Board President. During her tenure, she instituted the VisaScreen®: Visa Credentials Assessment Program and launched the International Centre on Nurse Migration, a joint endeavor with the International Council of Nurses (ICN). She retired in 2011.


Building Global Alliances and International Distinguished Leadership Award Initiated

CGFNS International, Inc. initiated its Building Global Alliances and International Distinguished Leadership Award Programs and created the Adele Herwitz Distinguished Scholars to honor the work of its Founding Executive Director. To date, 8 global nurse leaders have received the CGFNS International Distinguished Leadership Award and 35 global nurse leaders have been recognized as Adele Herwitz Distinguished Scholars.


International Consultants of Delaware (ICD) Acquired

ICD became an independent division of CGFNS International. Founded in 1977 and a charter member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services® (NACES). ICD performs credentials evaluation services for academic admission, healthcare professional licensure, employment, and immigration.


Credential Verification Service (CVS) for New York State Launched

CGFNS created a custom document verification program for foreign-educated nurses and other healthcare professionals for the New York State Education Department.


Characteristics of Foreign Nurse Graduates Published

CGFNS published Characteristics of Foreign Nurse Graduates in the United States Workforce, 2000-2001 describing demographic, migration and employment trends of foreign nurse graduates (Registered Nurses) working in the United States.


International Centre on Nurse Migration (ICNM) Initiated

CGFNS and the International Council of Nurses (ICN) created the International Centre on Nurse Migration (ICNM) to serve as a portal for policy, research and other information regarding global nurse migration trends and statistics.


CES Connect® for State Boards of Nursing Instituted

CGFNS created CES Connect®, an online reporting service for U.S. and Territorial Boards of Nursing to provide direct access to Credential Evaluation Service (CES) reports.


Characteristics of Foreign Practical Nurses Published

CGFNS published Characteristics of Practical Nurses in the United States Workforce, 2003-2004 including demographic data, education and employment patterns, challenges related to language and culture and job satisfaction.


Corporate Name Change Achieved

The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools became CGFNS International, Inc. to reflect its expanding global presence and breadth of healthcare professions served.


International Standards for Professional Nurses (ISPN®) Program® Introduced

CGFNS International, Inc. created the ISPN Program for countries desiring to measure their nursing education standards against an international benchmark. Qualified first-level, general nurses validated their nursing knowledge by taking the CGFNS Qualifying Exam® under the ISPN Program. The Program was initially offered in the People’s Republic of China.


International Recruitment Code Developed

CGFNS International, Inc. contributed to the World Health Organization’s Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel, which was adopted by the 63rd World Health Assembly in 2010.


CGFNS’s Role in Certifying Foreign-born Healthcare Professionals Reauthorized

CGFNS International, Inc. was reauthorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to continue certifying healthcare professionals under Section 343 of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA).


Books for Foreign-Educated Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Published

The Official Guide for Foreign Educated Nurses: What You Need to Know About Nursing and Healthcare in the United States and 2) The Official Guide for Foreign Educated Allied Health Professionals: What You Need to Know About Health Care and the Allied Health Professions in the United States were provided as resources to VisaScreen® applicants to assist them in their migratory journeys.


CGFNS Qualifying Exam® Under ISPN® Program Administered

The CGFNS Qualifying Exam® was administered for the first time under the International Standards for Professional Nurses (ISPN®) Program in the People’s Republic of China.


Consultation Services for Jordan Provided

CGFNS International, Inc. conducted an item writing and clinical evaluation workshop for the Jordanian Nursing Council in support of elevating nursing status in that country.


Services for Veterans Affairs Commenced

CGFNS International, Inc. and the International Consultants of Delaware (ICD) developed credentials evaluation services for foreign-educated registered nurses working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.


CGFNS Contribution to the Future of Nursing Report Sought

CGFNS International, Inc. was commissioned to develop “International Models of Nursing” for inclusion in the “Future of Nursing” Report sponsored by the Institute of Medicine and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Chief Executive Officer Franklin A. Shaffer, EdD, RN, FAAN, FFNMRCSI Appointed

Franklin A. Shaffer, EdD, RN, FAAN, FFNMRCSI was appointed Chief Executive Officer by the CGFNS International, Inc. Board of Trustees. With over 40 years of progressive and varied nursing experience including administration, education, clinical and research, he also served on the Joint Commission’s Nursing Advisory Council.


Credential Assessment Expertise Tapped

CGFNS International, Inc. signed a seven-year contract with the National Nursing Assessment Service in Canada to design a harmonized technology-based assessment system for evaluating internationally educated nurses seeking licensure across its provinces.


eSAVED Service Commenced

CGFNS International, Inc. offered its applicants secure and extended storage of authenticated and verified documents under the eSAVED service.


CGFNS Celebrates One Year Anniversary with NNAS

CGFNS International celebrates its one year anniversary with NNAS


Comparative Nursing Education Study for International Labour Organization (ILO) Conducted

CGFNS International, Inc. conducted a comparative study of nursing education in the Philippines and that of Norway, Denmark, and Finland through funded research commissioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) under the Decent Work Across Borders (DWAB) Program.


Inaugural ISPN Summer Institute for Nursing Faculty Held

CGFNS International launched the first International Standards for Professional Nurses (ISPN) Summer Institute for nursing faculty development in the People’s Republic of China.


Document Authentication Service Initiated

CGFNS International, Inc. created eDas – eDocument Authentication Service–to emphasize the importance of primary source verification as a safeguard to rising fraudulent activity worldwide.


eCoach Learning Services Launched

The CGFNS University launched the eCoach Learning Services Physical Therapy Remediation Program to assist applicants in developing education remediation plans to meet licensure and immigration requirements.


Franklin A. Shaffer Featured in Nurse Leader Journal

Franklin A. Shaffer, EdD, RN, FAAN, FFNMRCSI is recognized as emerging leader in Nurse Leader journal.


CGFNS International Acquires the Alliance

In September 2014, the Alliance was acquired by CGFNS International. The mission of the Alliance for Ethical International Recruitment Practices (Alliance) is to facilitate the adoption and compliance with voluntary standards to ensure ethical, responsible, and transparent recruitment practices of foreign-educated health professionals to the United States.


CGFNS Granted NGO Consultative Status to the United Nations

On August 14, 2015, CGFNS International, Inc. (CGFNS) was notified that it has been approved by the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status to the United Nations. This status provides CGFNS with access to many high level meetings of the UN and a number of other important events that are by invitations only.


Dr. Franklin A. Shaffer awarded Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland


CGFNS Participates in UN Conference to Adopt Global Compact on Migration


CGFNS Named NGO Associate of UN Department of Global Communications


CGFNS to Launch New Division Serving the Midwifery Profession


CGFNS Launches Credentials Verification Service for the Nursing Council of New Zealand


CGFNS Presents at WHO Headquarters on the Alliance Code and Recruiter Engagement


CGFNS contributes to First State of the World’s Nursing Report


CGFNS Expands Service Portfolio with International Background Check Forensics Capabilities


CGFNS International and International Council of Nurses launch Certified Global Nurse Consultant to contribute to national and global nursing and healthcare policy


CGFNS Receives ICN’s “Partners in Development” Award


CGFNS International earned ISO Certification

CGFNS International, Inc. earned ISO 9001:2015 Certification. ISO Certification is the most highly regarded global standard for ensuring quality. CGFNS receiving this certification reaffirms the organization’s commitment to serving the needs of the global healthcare community.