If you’re a high-school graduate and enjoy caring for people, nursing might be the path for you. Nursing also happens to be a highly in-demand skill in Canada, meaning that it’s a great career to explore. No matter your background, it’s never too late to become a nurse, and this article will explore the first steps you need to take towards your goal.
Becoming a nurse in Canada is a fairly straightforward process, which can vary depending on the province you’re located in. Below, we will try to answer all the questions you have about nursing education requirements to enter this profession.
What are the different types of nurses?
In Canada, nurses fall under three groups: registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPN), and nurse practitioners (NP). So, what’s the difference?
Registered nurses can specialize in many areas of care. It’s generally anyone who graduated from a nursing program and passed a national licensing exam. LPN usually provide more basic nursing care and often operate under supervision from RN or a physician. Nurse practitioners are RN who acquired additional education or skills and are working on a more advanced level as they received more training.
Each type of nurse competencies differs, meaning that their qualifications and responsibilities won’t be the same, and their education requirements will vary too. In this article, we will focus on standard registered nurses (RN) education requirements, as it tends to be the most common competency among the three.
What are the education requirements for nurses?
The answer depends on the type of nurse you are applying to be, but for all three you need to get a post-secondary education. RPN’s require the least amount of education, NP’s the most, but to have a career as a registered nurse (RN) you will have to complete a four-year baccalaureate degree in nursing, which will prepare you for your future career.
All provinces and territories have this same requirement (except Quebec, which allows you to complete a 3-year Diploma of Collegial Studies (or DEC) program) to ensure that all new nurses can provide high-quality care for Canadians. Choosing your preferred school is an important choice and you must check with your province or territory’s list of approved nursing schools and programs. You can also view the current list of programs accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing here.
What do I do after I graduate?
After you complete your studies, you have to contact a regulatory body in your province to find out which requirements you need to fulfill to get your nursing license. In most places, you will be required to complete at least one assessment to demonstrate your competency and knowledge in the field.
For example, if you plan on becoming an RN in Ontario, you have to register with the College of Nurses of Ontario first. If you’re deemed eligible, only then you are allowed to take the registration exam – National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) – which is a standard exam country-wide. To become a nurse, you must pass the exam to prove that you have gained enough knowledge during your studies and are ready to enter the workforce.
What if I am an internationally educated nurse?
Canada welcomes internationally educated nurses, willing to relocate and continue their careers. Even though you won’t have to go through formal schooling again, you still must apply and complete an assessment by your provincial nurses’ association to get licensed or registered. Some provinces have specialized programs designed to ease the transition of nurses coming from abroad.
For example, Ontario has a CARE (Creating Access for Regulated Employment for Nurses) program which aims to ease the process of employment for international nurses. The program assists with language requirements, offers access to an extensive CARE alumni networking group, exam preparation assistance, and observational job shadowing. According to RNAO (Registered Nurses Association in Ontario), the program assisted over 1000 internationally educated nurses to become registered nurses in Ontario.