Are you thinking about a career as a registered nurse?
As the country’s largest group of health-care providers, nurses lead the way in innovating and optimizing health-care for all Canadians. A career in nursing means being able to choose from a wide range of practice settings, from working with clients in the hospital to educating Canada’s future health-care leaders. Professional development and continued competence are also highly valued in nursing, making it an evolving and exciting field to be in.
Why should I consider a career as an RN?
This is an excellent time to enter nursing, as there are so many different and exciting career opportunities. Every Canadian at some point will require the services of a nurse. Nurses work with people at all stages of life and in all phases of health, illness, injury and disability.
What kind of education do I need?
Registered nurses undergo rigorous study and training. Currently, all provinces and territories, except Quebec, require a bachelor’s degree for RN entry to practice. Entry-level RNs are educated as generalists, ready to practise safely, competently, compassionately and ethically no matter what setting they work in. See the RN and Baccalaureate Education page for more information.
What kinds of things will I do?
Nursing offers a broad range of career paths to suit a variety of aspirations and goals. Nurses practise in five major domains: administration, clinical care, education, policy and research.
Nurse administrators coordinate nursing services, supervise staff, develop policies, and prepare and manage budgets.
Clinical care nurses provide health-care services to individuals, families and communities to help them achieve their optimal level of health. They coordinate health care and support clients in self-care.
All nurses are teachers by helping people learn to optimize health throughout their lives. A nurse may also choose to be a nurse educator, supporting nurses as they care for clients or helping future nurses enter the profession or advance their career.
Nurses working in policy provide advice on health-care issues to all levels of government and to stakeholders in all health settings. They monitor, advocate and critique health-care trends and issues as well as provide recommendations for improvement.
Nurse researchers review health-care evidence, ask questions, test hypotheses, highlight implications and make recommendations.
Where will I work?
RNs work in a variety of practice settings across the continuum of care [PDF, 1.9 MB] and are involved in all aspects of care from birth to death. The continuum of care includes many access points, from disease prevention and primary health care to chronic disease management and rehabilitation. Nursing is a career filled with growth and advancement, with changes in the health-care system further creating new and innovative opportunities.
CNA’s Canadian Network of Nursing Specialties offers a range of national associations that nurses can join, with each group having their own specialized area. The specialties include Indigenous health nursing, operating room nursing, occupational health nursing, legal nursing consultants and many more. Whatever your interest, nursing has an area of practice that will align with your passions and goals.
Can internationally educated nurses work in Canada?
There are many opportunities for internationally educated nurses (IENs) in Canada. CNA has developed resources for IENs looking for more information about practising in Canada, including a list of frequently asked questions. The resources also include information on working in Canada and a webinar [PDF, 1.3 MB] on integrating and supporting IENs in the Canadian health system.
What hours will I work?
Because nursing is essential to the functioning of health care in Canada, nurses are often needed 24 hours a day. But hours will vary greatly due to the range of settings nurses work in.
How much money will I make?
Salaries vary across provinces and territories as well as across practice settings. The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions has more information on nursing contract provisions and salary.