Practicing as a nurse

Overview

All nursing professions are regulated in Canada, which means that you must be registered with one of the provincial or territorial regulatory bodies to be authorized to practice as a nurse in Canada.

You should also be familiar with the program requirements in your province to ensure the Australian nursing programs you are considering will be equivalent. In some cases, graduates may be able to supplement missing components here in Canada if the Australian program falls short. These details differ from province to province and from program to program, so it is important to contact the provincial body directly to confirm all requirements before starting an Australian nursing degree.

Occasionally, an Australian nursing program does not fully meet the provincial requirement, although applicants may able to do placements in Canada to meet the requirement and are then able to proceed with the registration. You are encouraged to contact your provincial regulatory body to ensure you know your options.

Steps to Practice in Canada

The basic registration process can take roughly 9–12+ months, and is as follows:

1. Graduate with either a Master of Nursing or Bachelor of Nursing degree, or equivalent

2. Apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) as an internationally educated nurse (IEN) to receive an Advisory Report: an evaluation of your credentials comparing them to Canadian nursing standards and requirements.

  • You submit your documents to the NNAS. Documents include registration verification, schooling forms, and any employment history. The NNAS Handbook can be a helpful resource for this.
  • They put everything together and give your application to your provincial regulatory body.
  • The provincial regulatory body will then assess and decide if your credentials are equal to a Canadian nursing program or if you need to do extra schooling and/or placement hours.
  • If your studies are deemed equal, you are eligible to write the NCLEX.

3. Register with your provincial nursing regulatory authority.

Provincial Requirements

While all Canadian provinces require you to have an NNAS advisory report showing your credentials meet the Canadian standards and requirements for nursing degrees, each province has separate licensing requirements that you will need to complete to practice there.

Check the steps and requirements for your provincial regulatory body for registered nurses:

British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals
College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association
College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba
College of Nurses of Ontario
Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec
Nurses Association of New Brunswick
Nova Scotia College of Nursing
College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island
College of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador
Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut
Yukon Registered Nurses Association

Licensing And Registration Tips from OzTREKK Nursing Grads

Get registered in Australia before you leave. Once you finish school you can be a licensed RN in Australia and this can make the process coming back into Canada easier.

Get work experience in as many different areas as possible, if you get the chance to work in peds or maternity, do it!

Although it can seem daunting, it isn’t too bad. You just needs to be prepared that it could take about 10–12 months when you return. But, you can work as a PSW in the meantime!

The (registration) process itself can be confusing and frustrating, particularly waiting for various bodies to send along your information as you have very little control. Make it as easy for everyone as possible. Some forms have to come directly from your work and uni, include a stamped envelope if appropriate.

Follow-up on the paperwork. NNAS takes a long time, but if they haven’t registered receiving a form after 6 months, follow up!

FAQs

What to do if your nursing studies are not equal to Canada’s

Some placements required by the provincial nursing college may not be offered as part of the Australian nursing program, or are only offered as elective placements. This means that you may have to do these placements on your own after you graduate. While some people don’t mind, it is something you will want to consider.

Based on what we have heard from previous OzTREKK students, Australian nursing programs do not typically include a maternity/pediatrics section in the course. Those who study nursing in Australia and plan to return to Canada for practice are strongly encouraged to take a maternity and pediatrics placement where available to gain clinical hours to make up for this.

If you do not have the option to take a maternity/pediatrics placement, don’t worry. There are things that you can do to make up for content. For example, you can

  • complete a postgraduate midwifery course
  • complete bridging courses available in Canada

These details differ from province to province and from program to program, so it is important to contact the provincial body directly to confirm all requirements before starting a nursing program in Australia.

Depending on if you’d like to work in a specialized area, you may need to do extra schooling and/or placement hours. This can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete.

When is the best time to apply?

While most Bachelor of Nursing programs do not have a set application deadline, you are strongly encouraged by the university to submit your application before the end of September for programs beginning in semester 1 (February/March) and before the end of April for programs beginning in semester 2 (July).

If you’re interested in applying to a Master of Nursing program, you should submit your application as early as possible (May or June) as these programs can fill quickly.

What is considered a competitive GPA to get into nursing programs?

For nursing programs, anywhere from a 75% and above cumulative average in your undergraduate degree can be considered competitive; however, as long as you meet the minimum entry requirements (these vary from university to university) you can submit an application to that program.

Will I be able to practice in Australia?

As of now, the option is there for Canadians to work as a nurse in Australia after graduating from an Australian nursing program; however, it is important to keep in mind that this is subject to change and that Australian citizens may have priority to these positions.

To work as a nurse or midwife in Australia, you need to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA). Graduates can register with board to become registered nurses in Australia and in many overseas countries. You will also need to apply for a visa (issued by the Australian Department of Home Affairs (Australian Immigration Department), to allow you to work in the country. You will likely need to apply for a Bridging visa in between your Student visa and the working visa which will allow you to stay in Australia until your application for a new substantive visa is decided.

If your goal is to practice nursing in Australia, OzTREKK encourages you to contact the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia and the Australian High Commission Office to discuss the process of licensing in Australia for Canadian citizens.

If I study nursing in Australia, will I be permitted to practice in Canada?

Yes, you can, although you should be familiar with the Canadian certification process for foreign-trained nurses in your province. All nursing professions are regulated in Canada, which means that you must be registered with one of the provincial or territorial regulatory bodies to be authorized to practice as a nurse in Canada.

The basic registration process can take roughly 9–12+ months, and is as follows:

  • You submit your documents to the NNAS. Documents include registration verification, schooling forms, and any employment history. The NNAS Handbook can be a helpful resource for this.
  • They put everything together and give your application to your provincial regulatory body.
  • The provincial regulatory body will then assess and decide if your credentials are equal to a Canadian nursing program or if you need to do extra schooling and/or placement hours.
  • If your studies are deemed equal, you are eligible to write the NCLEX.

Students should also be familiar with the program requirements in their province to ensure the Australian nursing program they are considering will be equivalent. In some cases, graduates may be able to supplement missing components here in Canada if the Australian program falls short. These details differ from province to province and from program to program, so it is important to contact the provincial body directly to confirm all requirements before starting a program internationally.

Occasionally, an Australian nursing program does not fully meet the provincial requirement, although applicants may able to do placements in Canada to meet the requirement and are then able to proceed with the registration. OzTREKK encourages you to contact the provincial regulatory body to ensure you know your options.

Which are the most popular nursing programs?

We’ve seen Melbourne, UQ, and Sydney with the most applicants, but this may be because those universities are more widely known than some of the others. Once a student becomes aware of his or her options, we tend to see applications spread across the board.