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Healthcare and social assistance is a large industry in Canada. The demand for health care and other support services is large and growing and job prospects for nurses are expected to be above average over the next several years.

A growing and ageing population will require more health services, which will result in increased demand for registered nurses. There will also be a considerable number of jobs available due to the need to replace experienced workers as they retire.

Nursing is a registered profession in Canada with three branches:

  • registered nurses (RNs)
  • licensed practical nurses (LPNs, or registered practical nurses – RPNs in Ontario)
  • registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) in western Canada.

Registered nurses comprise over 75% of the regulated nurses in Canada and are the largest group of healthcare providers in the country.

There is no national registration for nursing. You must register with the regulatory nursing college or association in the province or territory where you want to work. It is important to have a general overview of how your international qualifications may be viewed in Canada, and have a general sense of the Canadian labour market.

Before you immigrate:

There are steps that you can take before you immigrate to improve your chances of practicing your profession in Canada.

  • Contact the Canadian diplomatic mission closest to you to find out about the employment requirements for nursing in Canada.
  • Contact the regulatory body in the province or territory where you intend to settle and work to clarify the requirements and, where possible, actually begin the application process.
  • You’ll be asked to provide documents to the regulator, or have them sent directly by other organizations for you. Your education, work and identity documents are important and it’s much easier to gather them or any other required official document while you’re still in your home country.
  • Contact the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) to enquire about the assessment process of your international credentials. Once you complete this assessment, you can complete the application process with the province where you wish to work. Find out what documents you have to submit.
  • Gather your education, work, identity documents, and any other official documents while you are still in your native country. Verify if they need to be translated. In some case, you will be required to use professional translation services in Canada.
  • Check with the regulatory body for information about accepted language tests and minimum required scores. Even if you’re a fluent speaker of English or French, it’s helpful to improve your language skills and enroll in language classes while you’re in your home country and continue them after moving to Canada.
  • Subscribe to the newsletters of related professional organizations. This will help keep you updated with the developments even while still in your home country.
  • Know the name of your job in Canada and make a list of potential employers.
  • Find out how to get a driver’s license in Canada and apply for it as soon as you land. It will be useful when you get a job, or even to search for a job.

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