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Canadian Accreditation for International Registered Nurses (RN)

Canadian Accreditation for International Registered Nurses (RN)

Working Nurses

By  Brandon Miller
Monster Contributing Writer

Internationally transferable education and training can be a saving grace when it comes to immigration and starting over with a new life in a far-off destination. And believe it or not, Canada’s economy is in far better shape than many others in the world (even though 2009 may have seemed like the financial apocalypse). Since nurses are in such high demand, international applicants are increasingly vital for making our health care system run smoothly.
Here are some of the essentials for getting licensed as a Canadian Registered Nurse (RN) using your international credentials.

Establishing a starting point

Before you start planning a move to the land of beavers and hockey, the first thing you need to do is educate yourself. The Canadian Consulate in your home country should be able to provide information on work visas, let you know whether an employment offer is needed and offer you a basic timeline for immigration.

Finding places to apply

Since 1968, Canadian medical care has been publicly funded. Because of this fact, international applicants must apply directly to an individual employer and not to one centralized organization. The Canadian Healthcare Association (CHA) publishes a directory of addresses and information for hospitals, health care centres, nursing homes, health associations and health education programs in the community. You can find the hard copy resource at public libraries, at most Canadian Consulates.

Registering yourself

In Canada, health care has subtle differences from province to province. Thus, an RN must be licensed or registered to work in the province or territory in which they wish to hold a job. Application forms can be requested directly from a Registering or Licensing Authority.

Writing the exam

Like domestic candidates, international nurses must take an examination to determine an aspirant’s level of suitability for the job.  As part of the licensing or registering process, international nurses must write the Canadian Registered Nurses Examination (with the exception of those applying to work in Quebec, as Quebec nurses have their own exam). The exam must be written in Canada and must be on the recommendation of a provincial or territorial nurses association.

Get the details at the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Web site. 

Provincial and Territorial Regulatory Bodies

British Columbia




New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Prince Edward Island

Territories and Nunavut

Three things to consider about working in Canada:

Specialty skills are in high demand. According to the Canadian Nurses Association, nurses with experience working in specialty areas like the emergency room or in critical care wards are the most likely to find opportunities in Canada. Operating room nurses are also in a good spot.

Location, location, location. Big cities like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal are often the most attractive areas to new immigrants because they are globally known metropolises. But that doesn’t mean that they offer the most opportunities, especially for international nurses. The more isolated (and often, more Northern) a community, the more likely that they are in dire need of RNs.

Bilingualism is an asset.
Knowing both French and English can go a long way in finding an international nurse a Canadian position. In order to practice in Quebec, RNs must have expert knowledge of the French language. And while New Brunswick, Manitoba and Ontario have rules that stipulate candidates can be proficient in either French or English, knowing both languages is an advantage.