Guide to Canadian Nursing and Midwifery Registration for Foreign-trained and International Nurses

How to become a Registered Nurse Practitioner in Canada

Are you thinking about a career as a registered nurse in Canada? The possibilities are limitless. Nursing offers both men and women a wide range of opportunities for career challenges, travel, professional development and the personal satisfaction of working in a caring profession that helps people to get well or to stay healthy.

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is the national professional voice of registered nurses (RNs) in Canada. CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded, not-for-profit health system. It also speaks for Canadian RNs and represents Canadian nursing to other organizations and to governments, nationally and internationally.

Why should you consider a career as an RN in Canada? This is an excellent time to enter nursing! There are so many career opportunities! Every Canadian at some point in their life will require the services of a nurse. Since many nurses will soon retire, Canada needs bright people to choose nursing as a career.

The Practice of Nursing

Registered Nurses (RNs) receive legal authority to use the title “registered nurse” or “RN” through provincial and territorial legislation and regulation. RNs practise in all provinces and territories in Canada and across the full range of clinical care, education, administration, research and policy settings.

What kind of education do you need? All the provinces and territories, except Quebec, require a bachelor’s degree for nursing entry-to-practice or are in the process of moving to such a requirement. See the official website via link below for detailed information.

Work in Canada

Where can you find out how to obtain a visa to work as a registered nurse in Canada? 
Contact the Canadian consulate nearest you for information regarding immigration or visas. It is very likely that an offer of employment will be required.

What are the employment prospects in Canada?
Nursing employment is growing after several years of health-care restructuring and hospital downsizing. RNs with skills and experience in specialty areas (e.g., emergency, critical care and operating room) and those willing to work in smaller or isolated communities are in the most demand. CNA is predicting a continued shortage of nurses for the future.

Where can I obtain information about becoming licensed to practise nursing in Canada?
Unlike many other countries, the registration of nurses does not occur at the national level. RNs are licensed in the province or territory in which they work. You can request a prior learning assessment and application forms from any provincial or territorial regulatory body.

Will I need to write an examination to become licensed to practise in Canada?
Canadian provinces and territories, with the exception of Quebec, require that you write the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination as part of the registration or licensure process. At present, this exam can only be written in Canada on the recommendation of a provincial or territorial nurses association. CNA’s Canadian Registered Nurse Examination Prep Guide will help you prepare for the exam. Visit the official website via link below for detailed information on this.

Quebec nurses have their own exam. For further information, contact the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec.

What languages do I need to know to become an RN in Canada?
You require language proficiency to become an RN in Canada. Bilingualism (French and English) is an asset. Candidates must have knowledge of French to practise in Quebec. In New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario, candidates must be proficient in either French or English. Employment and nursing education programs for unilingual French speaking nurses are available in Quebec and in certain areas in New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario. In these provinces, the Canadian RN exam may be written in either French or English. The other provinces and territories require proficiency in English.

Can I practise midwifery?
Midwifery is a recognized profession in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec and Nova Scotia. For further information, please refer to the Canadian Association of Midwives.

For more information on becoming a registered nurse in Canada, the lists of the Colleges of registered psychiatric nurses and Colleges of midwives of Canada, and correspondence addresses, visit the official CNA website via the link below.

More Information for Foreign-trained and International Nurses

Related: Top Canadian Scholarships for International Students

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