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What it's like to be a nurse in Canada

They say that nursing in Canada is like no other- in a good way! There are 10 provinces with a wide variety of nursing opportunities, a multicultural population of around 31 million people, and a plethora of services to help you start (and maintain) your nursing journey. Some of the resources include the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA), the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS), and various other similar associations and services.
The CNA is dubbed ‘the unified voice of Canadian nursing’- they support students and nurses who are working full and part-time, no matter where your choice of work. The CNA also supports nurses in all roles and settings to develop innovative tools and resources to advance the nursing profession. We’ve outlined some information below that can help shed some light on what it’s like to be a nurse in Canada in terms of the options you have available to succeed.

Continuing education

The CNA has over 100 years’ experience in providing credible career development programs to build on your skills and knowledge as a nurse. Their goal is to cultivate and sustain excellence in all areas of nursing- including practice, education, research, policy-making, and administration. 
The CNA Learning Centre is a new and innovative learning management system that offers a wide variety of courses such as Nursing Documentation, Recognizing Common Mental Health Problems, Errors and Experience in Healthcare, Chronic Pain Management, and Stress Reduction Strategies for Nurses, amongst many others. Their courses are developed so that you can track your learning journey, find opportunities that suit your preferences for learning, and accessing reliable and competency-based resources and tools. 


Certification is a nationally recognized nursing specialty credential for nurses. There are 22 nursing specialties with programs for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses, registered practical nurses, and registered psychiatric nurses. Specialties include, but are not limited to, cardiovascular, community health, critical care, emergency, gerontology, and more. Read the full list here
Requirements for certification include 2 options:
  • 1,950 hours of experience in your nursing specialty within the last five years; or
  • 1,000 hours of experience in your nursing specialty within the last five years plus 300 hours of formal education (which can be a specialty post-basic course or program at a college/university).

Finding employment

The nursing profession includes many fields across a wide variety of settings, and it’s imperative that you work toward finding a job that suits your needs and strengths. You could become a Midwife, Registered Nurse, Healthcare Assistant, Personal Support Worker, or a Specialist Nurse who works in Emergency Rooms, for example. You could work in a hospital, private practice, hospices, or nursing homes, amongst others, and you can have your choice of working on a contract or part-time, be it in a permanent or part-time position. Greenstaff Medical Canada have jobs that suit these parameters- take a look here.
The CNA suggests you ask yourself these questions, amongst others, in order to make an informed (and good) decision about what job you want:
  1. What type of setting do you want to work in?
  2. Are you prepared to work a variety of hours and/or all days of the week?
  3. Do you want to work with a specific population, such as seniors or children?
  4. Would you prefer to work in an urban or a rural community?
  5. Do you want to work in a unionized or non-unionized setting?
  6. Do you want to work in policy?

Career development

Becoming a nurse is similar to many other career choices in the sense that you want to work in an area that holds your interest and motivates you. The CNA’s ‘Career Development’ guides help you to discover the kind of work that would best meet your skills and unique needs by outlining different opportunities and what it takes to be successful with them. They help you to discover your styles of communication, strengths, learning, and leadership. They also help you to update or develop your resume, as well as how to prepare for job interviews and performance reviews.
If you’re looking to start (or progress!) your journey, feel free to reach out to our dedicated team of consultants and specialists that can help you. With us, you have the opportunity to work as little or as much as you’d like, and we even offer international opportunities! Read more about how you can grow with us here, or about what kind of nurses we hire here. We can be reached across various platforms- take a look and get in touch!