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Becoming an RN

Are you thinking about a career as a registered nurse?

The possibilities are limitless. Nursing offers both men and women a wide range of opportunities for career challenges, travel, professional development and the personal satisfaction of working in a caring profession that helps people to get well or to stay healthy.

Why should I consider a career as an RN?

This is an excellent time to enter nursing! There are so many career opportunities! Every Canadian at some point in their life will require the services of a nurse. Since many nurses will soon retire, Canada needs bright people to choose nursing as a career.

What kind of education do I need?

All the provinces and territories, except Quebec, require a bachelor’s degree for nursing entry-to-practice or are in the process of moving to such a requirement. See chart for details.

What kinds of things will I do?

The great thing about nursing is that your choices never end. RNs support people to attain, maintain and regain healt-h across the lifespan. Nurses practise in five major areas of responsibility: direct care, education, administration, research and policy.

Direct care

Direct care nurses provide health-care services to individuals, families and groups to achieve their optimal level of health. They coordinate health care and support clients in their self-care.


All nurses are teachers, helping people learn to attain, maintain and regain health throughout their lives. You can 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.


Nurse administrators coordinate nursing services, supervise staff, develop policies and prepare and manage budgets.


Nurse researchers review health-care evidence, ask questions, test hypotheses, highlight implications and make recommendations.


Nurses working in policy provide advice on health-care issues to all levels of government and stakeholders in all health settings. They moniter, advocate and critique health-care trends and issues, as well as provide recommendations for improvement.

Where will I work?

RNs work in a broad variety of practice settings and changes in the health-care system continue to broaden the opportunities. Nursing is a career filled with growth and advancement. Whatever your interest — working with children, scientific procedures and high-tech equipment, teaching and promoting healthy practices, developing your management skills — nursing has something for you. Here are just a few examples:

In The Community

  • health clinics
  • schools
  • wellness programs in the workplace
  • doctors’ offices
  • home care
  • family planning clinics
  • poison control centres
  • prenatal and well-baby clinics
  • rehabilitation centres
  • sexually transmitted disease units
  • AIDS hospices

In A Hospital

  • emergency
  • intensive care
  • operating room
  • post-surgery
  • maternity
  • cardiovascular (heart)
  • oncology (cancer)
  • psychiatry
  • pediatrics (children)
  • palliative (dying people)
  • geriatrics (seniors )

Internationally Educated Nurses: An Employer’s Guide

Addressing the Challenges of Workforce Integration

This leading web-based practice guide on integrating internationally educated nurses (IENs) into the workplace is designed to assist employers. Given the aging workforce in nursing, being able to effectively manage IEN recruitment, retention and integration can make a real difference to your organization’s success.
This instructive site will show you:

One of the most exciting opportunities for RNs in Canada is working in the North. Most community health centres in Canada’s North are led by RNs.

What hours will I work?

In many settings, care is provided 24 hours a day, so expect to work some nights and weekends, like law enforcement officers, firefighters, paramedics and others who provide essential services.

How much money will I make?

Salaries vary across provinces and territories, as well as across practice settings.