Work in Canada

Work in Canada

The following information responds to many of the most common inquiries from internationally educated nurses who are investigating the possibility of working as a registered nurse in Canada. The answers provided also contain links to additional resources.

Contact the Canadian consulate nearest you for information regarding immigration or visas. It is very likely that an offer of employment will be required.

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.

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.

The National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) is a Canada-wide body that provides an initial assessment for internationally educated nurses (IENs) who would like to practise in Canada.

You can begin the process of applying here. The NNAS handbook for applications is a great resource that will help answer any questions you may have.

Canadian provinces and territories require that you write an exam as part of the registration or licensure process. Starting in 2015, provincial and territorial nursing regulators (outside Quebec) have been using the NCLEX-RN exam from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as Canada’s entry-to-practice exam. For more information, please contact your provincial or territorial regulatory body and NCSBN.

Quebec nurses will continue to use their own exam. For further information, please contact the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec.

Varied language proficiencies are required to become an RN in Canada. Bilingualism (French and English) is an asset. Candidates must have knowledge of French to practise in Quebec. Employment and nursing education programs for French speaking nurses are available in Quebec and in certain areas of New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario. The other provinces and territories require proficiency in English.

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