- Nursing in Canada
- Before You Come to Canada
- Becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada
- Finding a Nursing Job in Canada
- Provincial and Territorial Regulatory Bodies
- Additional Resources
Nursing in Canada
In Canada, nursing is one profession with three regulated nursing groups: registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or registered practical nurses (RPNs) in the province of Ontario and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs). RNs make up more than 75% of the regulated nurses in Canada and are the largest group of health-care providers in Canada.
Through legislation and regulations, the provinces and territories delegate to certain professions the authority to self-regulate in order to protect public health and safety, and to ensure that professionals meet the required standards of practice and competence. If you wish to work as a nurse in Canada, you must be registered by the regulatory nursing college or association in the province or territory where you want to work. There is no national registration.
Registered Nurses work independently or in collaboration with others. They assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for clients throughout the life cycle and through palliative stages. RNs coordinate health care, deliver nursing services and support clients in their self-care decisions and actions in situations of health, illness, injury and disability at all stages of life. RNs work in direct practice, education, administration, research and policy in a variety of settings.
Nurse Practitioners are nurses with additional education and experience. They autonomously diagnose clients, and order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe drugs and substances.
The information in this fact sheet applies specifically to the profession of Registered Nurse. Consult the fact sheets for Licensed Practical Nurse (which includes Registered Practical Nurse in Ontario) and Registered Psychiatric Nurse for information about those nursing professions.
Before You Come to Canada
While you are waiting to go to Canada, there are many important things you can do to improve your chances for achievement of registration as a Registered Nurse.
The FCRO provides you with helpful resources such as the Planning to Work in Canada? workbook and the Working in Canada Tool. Use these resources to find and collect important information and to develop your job-search plan.
You should contact the regulatory body in the province or territory where you wish to work before coming to Canada to clarify specific requirements and, where possible, begin the application process. You will be required to provide documents to the regulator, or have them sent to the regulator directly by other organizations for you. Your official education, work and identity documents are important. It is much easier for you to gather your documents or organize them to be sent while still in your home country.
Verify the translation requirements. In some cases, you will have to use a professional translation service in Canada.
You will need to prove your language skills in English or French and confirmation of your language skills may include a test. If you will be working in English, you may want to do a special language test for nurses. You can find more information on how to take the test or do sample tests. Check with the regulatory body in the province/territory that you intend to apply to for information about accepted language tests and minimum required scores. If you need to improve your language skills, start before you come to Canada.
Becoming a Registered Nurse in Canada
You must meet the requirements of the provincial or territorial regulatory nursing body. Requirements may differ from one province or territory to another.
You must fill out an application form with the provincial or territorial regulatory body. You will have to pay a fee to apply, and there will be additional fees for the required examinations.
Your education will need to be assessed to see if it is the equivalent of a Canadian nursing education.
You may be required to demonstrate that you have a specific number of recent hours of work experience.
You may be required to demonstrate your knowledge and skills through a competency-based assessment.
You must demonstrate language proficiency in either English or French, which may include taking a language test depending on the requirements of each province or territory. Some regulatory bodies require you to have passed language tests before you are able to apply for registration.
You may be required to demonstrate good character through a criminal record check in both Canada and relevant foreign jurisdictions.
Once it has been determined that you meet all the regulatory requirements you will be required to write and pass the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination in Canada unless you are applying in the province of Quebec. Quebec applicants have to write a different examination. In order to write the examination, you must be assessed for eligibility by the regulatory body of the province or territory where you want to work.
After your application has been approved and while you are waiting to write the examination, some provinces and territories may allow you to work under a temporary registration or permit.
Finding a Nursing Job in Canada
Nurses must be registered to practise in a province or territory. You must look for jobs in the region where you will be registered. You should take time to research job requirements and develop a plan for finding work.
Some nursing colleges or associations may recommend a commercial job site or maintain a job bank. The CNA job search site can be found at www.nursingcareerscanada.ca.
Many hospitals and other health institutions post jobs on their website. The Canadian Healthcare Association publishes a directory of names and addresses for hospitals, health centres and nursing homes.
Provincial and Territorial Regulatory Bodies
- College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia
- College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
- Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association
- College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba
- College of Nurses of Ontario
- Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (in French only)
- Nurses Association of New Brunswick
- College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia
- Association of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island
- Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador
- Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut
- Yukon Registered Nurses Association