Canadian nursing jobs: information and suggestions for recent immigrants and those considering moving here. Special thanks go to Suzanne Greaney for sharing her personal experiences that helped shape this resource on nursing careers in Canada.
Travel is one of the best options that a bachelor’s degree in nursing science can provide. The planet has always been visited by nurses. Australia, the UAE, and the UK have likely seen an increase in their appeal to foreign nurses in recent years. However, as we move into the 2020s, working as an international nurse in Canada has grown more and more appealing.
Nursing Jobs in Canada
I never thought about seeking for nursing employment in Canada when I became a licensed nurse in 2013, as I knew passing an exam would be required to get my license. I left for Australia as many other Irish people had done before me. After working there for a year, I came back to Ireland because I felt the distance from home was too much.
Forward to 2020, and I’m now a resident in Toronto working for my nursing license. Although at times it seemed like a long journey, I’m pleased I persisted because I’m about to start a nursing career in Canada.
Canada is a desirable location for overseas individuals looking to advance their nursing careers because of its comparatively strong healthcare system. The most in-demand nurses are those with specialized knowledge in operating rooms or emergency rooms, as well as those who want to work in rural or isolated indigenous communities.
But in order to find nursing employment in Canada, job seekers must be aware of a few crucial criteria. The first is that you’ll need to have your international qualifications evaluated and apply for a license to practice medicine in Canada; more on that below. Second, practices vary from province to province or territory to territory. This means that when you finish your research, you should have one or more destinations in mind.
seeking nurse positions in Canada
You’ve earned your nursing credentials outside of Canada, but how can you use them to start a rewarding nursing career here? Let’s investigate!
Careers in nursing in Canada
What it takes to become a nurse in Canada
Registering with this online service, known as the NNAS (National Nursing Assessment Service) for Canada and the US, is the first step in obtaining your license. If you’d like, you can complete this before traveling to Canada.
When registering with the NNAS, you must fill out an online form with information about your demographics, education, and professional experience over the previous five years, as well as a list of any nursing organizations with which you are currently or have previously been registered.
If you attended school abroad and are looking for nursing work in Canada (outside of Quebec and the Territories), in one of the following roles, you must submit an application to the NNAS:
It costs money to become a registered nurse (RN), licensed practical nurse (LPN), or registered psychiatric nurse (RPN). You must pay the NNAS a registration cost of $765 USD (as of 2020). The procedure include mailing copies of your birth certificate and passport that have been notarized, as well as having the appropriate individuals from your college, prior employers, and registered nursing organizations fill out the NNAS paperwork. You may find video instructions on how to fill out these papers on the internet, and you have one year from the day you registered with NNAS to return all paperwork.
Once all the paperwork is in, the NNAS ought to accept you. It should be understood, though, that this could take a full year. Once accepted, you’ll be able to submit an application for a license in the Canadian province where you’re going.
Your qualifications will be initially evaluated by the NNAS, who will compare them to equivalent Canadian standards. You can learn more by using the NNAS’s online manual.
Each province in Canada needs you to take an English exam in addition to the NNAS, or a French exam if you want to work in Quebec, if you can’t show that you speak the language fluently. The test used to measure your English language proficiency is the NCLEX.
The Canadian government pledged more funds in 2021 to aid in the credential recognition of international nurses. Find out more about this project here.
What you need to know about the NCLEX
Most provinces and territories will require strong English-language skills in order to practice. In Quebec, knowledge of French is often, though not always, required. You will need to complete an exam to complete the registration process. Outside Quebec, this exam is known as the NCLEX-RN exam, provided by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) purpose is to ensure you are safe to begin practicing as a nurse. When it comes to nursing jobs in Canada as foreigner, you need to know that every nurse trained in North America needs to pass this exam. It is a computerised, mostly multiple-choice intuitive exam. There are multiple online tutoring options to help prepare it, including UWorld. If you do not pass first time around, you can repeat the exam. Once you pass the NCLEX, it is valid across North America.
It is recommended to complete as much of the application and registration process from your home country as is possible. It is generally easier to obtain documents related to your international credentials from your home country, as you avoid unwanted time differences, international calling rates, and other hassle that can arise when dealing with bureaucracy from abroad.
What should you do while you wait for your nursing license in Canada?
I would advise any internationally trained nurses searching for employment in Canada to begin building their networks as soon as they land in the nation. You should update your resume before applying for administrative positions in the healthcare industry on LinkedIn and Indeed. Once you have your license, talking to nurses and doctors with a variety of specialties and backgrounds will help you navigate your career path. This will happen when you are working in the field.
What to anticipate with nursing positions in Canada
Canada’s health system is currently facing issues related to a lack of public services, a labor shortage, and longer wait times for procedures, just like many other health systems throughout the world. You will be caring for more complex patients as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a public hospital because these facilities frequently employ more Registered Practice Nurses (RPN) as cost-effective staffing strategies.
Although Canada faces the aforementioned difficulties, there are still opportunities for professional advancement and progress in the public sector, as well as plenty of places to work in privately owned businesses.
Therefore, why Canada?
I considered becoming a nurse in the UK before deciding on Canada because I am aware of the vast opportunities for professional growth and education there. I wasn’t convinced about it at the time because of Brexit, though.
I submitted a Middle East application and participated in many remote interviews. At the time, the usual workweek was 48 hours, but I was given a tax-free salary of €42,000 (about $62,000 CAD) with four years of experience. Once obtained, the nursing license would only have enabled me to work at the hospital with which I had a contract, severely restricting my options. Additionally, Middle Eastern countries frequently provide 40 days of yearly leave as opposed to Canada’s conventional starting point of 15 days for nurses. I was told in the contract that this cannot be taken for the first six months, so I would have to put in at least a 48-hour work week each and every week for the whole six-month period. I considered the offer and chose not to accept it.
Canada provides a competitive compensation for a 36–40 hour work week when it comes to nursing positions. With a yearly increment pay rise, the acute care compensation for fresh graduates in Ontario is almost $59,000CAD. In Ireland, where I originally hail from, a recent graduate often makes less than €30,000 (about $45,000 CAD) per year. Before making a final decision, take the time to thoroughly investigate the city and province you will be residing in because the pay differs depending on your province.
Health insurance is another perk that typically begins after three months of residing in the nation. If you decide to work in the private sector, you might also be able to obtain additional health benefits and bonuses through your employer.
Being geographically closer to home for those of us from Ireland, the UK, and the rest of Europe is another great benefit for those of us who have lived in Australia. I moved to Toronto last summer and am still working on getting my license, but I am almost a year into my IEC visa, I have almost made it through my first winter, and I couldn’t be happier that I made the move to Canada!