5 Things Foreign Nurses should know before studying Nursing in Canada

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Canada is one of the most developed countries in the world. Having a sound infrastructure and a great healthcare system not only complement Canada’s overall growth but also make it a preferred location for many people. But owing to the growing population of old people in the country, there is an acute shortage of nurses, which poses a threat to the Canadian healthcare system. The Canadian Nurses Assocation (CNA) predicts that Canada would be short of around 60,000 nurses by the year 2022. So, if you’re an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) who is planning to study nursing in Canada, then now is the right time to apply. We have made a list of 5 things every foreign nurse should know before studying nursing in Canada:

  • Multi-Cultural

Canada is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. People from different ethnicities comprise Canada’s culture and it boasts the highest number of foreign-born citizens at present. As a foreign nurse in Canada, not only will you get the opportunity to know and explore different cultures, but it will also be beneficial for your nursing career. You will understand the various layers of care the Canadian healthcare system offers to its citizens and that will improve your professional and personal insight. Since the profession of nursing is such that it always requires you to work on your patient’s well-being, it will train you to possess the best skills and guidance to deal with tough situations within a healthcare setting.

Canada encourages multiculturalism which leads to racial and ethnic harmony. It promotes cross-cultural understanding and as an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN), you can take pride in your ancestry and have a sense of belonging. There is a mutual respect for all religions and cultures in Canada, where everyone is treated equally. As a foreign nurse studying nursing in Canada, the experience you bring from your country will allow you to mix the best parts of it with the Canadian way of living and providing healthcare support.

  • Awareness

As a nursing student, it is very important for you to have awareness about certain things in Canada. Initially, you should know the nursing education you obtained in your respective country will not be enough for you to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in Canada. The process of becoming an RN in Canada includes a lot of paperwork. This is done in the form of filling out forms, taking several examinations and then applying to the respective provincial nursing regulatory body. Every province has its own set of rules and regulations, and hence, you should know about all the rules that govern your province.


Upon the successful completion of your education in Canada, you must take the NCLEX-RN, which stands for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. This exam is mandatory for all nurses who want to practice as an RN in Canada and is only meant for students who hold an accredited degree/diploma in nursing in their respective countries. Before applying for this exam, you must make an application to a province/territory where you want to apply and after successfully clearing this exam, you can practice as an entry level RN in Canada. Every nursing graduate must preferably write this exam as soon as they graduate because at that time you are accustomed to the idea of devoting time to studies and it is convenient to be in the right state of mind for it. With the right preparation, this exam can be cleared in one go.


Before you can take the NCLEX, you must create an online account with the National Nurses Assessment Service (NNAS), which is an organization that provides a streamlined process for Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) to submit their documents and provides them with tools to apply for nursing registration in Canada. Through the account you create, the NNAS will communicate with you and guide you through the process. Once your account is created, you must submit your identity proofs and two forms of identification. These forms should be notarized, and copies of original documents must be signed, dated and stamped along with your signature.

The next step is to submit your language testing results which proves you can read, write, speak and listen in English. You must meet the minimum eligibility criteria for the tests and your language results should be no older than six months at the time you apply to NNAS. The NNAS then sends an advisory report to the regulating authority of your province. For example, if you’re applying in the province of Ontario, then the NNAS will send the advisory report to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), which is the main regulatory body for the province. Once you receive the advisory report, you will then receive instructions about how to contact your college with your request to register in that province. The college will only consider you as an applicant for registration once you complete the process of the NNAS and submit the required application along with the fee(s) directly to the college.

  • Specialized Nursing:

The Canadian healthcare system is divided into different specializations and there are various options to choose from. However, you can only practice in your specialized area as a nurse and cannot juggle departments as specific training is provided in each program. Upon the completion of your selected program, you can practice in the province of your choice but only in the specialized field of your expertise. For example, if you’re an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) who has completed a program in Palliative Care, then you could practice in the Palliative Care department of any healthcare institution. Since a nursing program in Palliative Care focuses on patients with life-limiting illnesses, you will be required to have a heightened sense of empathy towards their well-being. You would also be required to have a personal bond with the family of the patients as they too would need your care and guidance. It would be mandatory for you to make sure that all doctors are on the same page and are well coordinated for the betterment of your patient. In such a scenario, no other foreign nurse from any other department would be preferred but the ones who have obtained expertise in this field. Hence, for every specialization there are plenty of opportunities, but it would be a pre-requisite for you to avail a job pertaining to your specialization only.

If you’re a foreign nurse who has studied nursing in Philippines or in the Middle East, then you can study postgraduate nursing in Canada and become a part of the Canadian healthcare system. Canada not only offers a much better compensation and a better job security, but the Canadian healthcare system is also considered as one of the best in the world. The tools and healthcare practices in Canada are much more advanced and foreign nurses can increase the level of patient-care in the country, post completion of their nursing study in the country. Looking from a professional point of view, nursing is the second most sought after profession in Canada and offers an upgraded lifestyle with ample opportunities for all foreign nurses planning to move. Due to its superior medical infrastructure and a vast pool of resources, Canada offers a more secure, stable and better lifestyle for nurses.

According to a research hypothesis submitted by experts at Misamis University, Philippines, it has been observed that nurses seek better employment opportunities outside the country due to monetary and non-monetary reasons. There is an increasing number of nursing professionals in Philippines, but it is not proportionate with the increase in jobs, as a result of which a lot of nursing manpower resorts to studying and moving abroad. This is an important factor and keeping this in mind, Canada is the right destination if you’re a Filipino nurse.

For foreign nurses currently practicing in the Middle East, the countries do not grant a permanent resident status because of the complex laws that govern the country. Owing to this fact, a lot of foreign nurses cannot plan their future and hence, look for options overseas. So, if you’re a nurse who’s practicing in the Middle East, then Canada is the right option for you. Not only can you study nursing in Canada and get acquainted with the country’s culture, but it will also equip you to practice the best healthcare tools available. Upon the completion of your nursing study in Canada, there is always an option of clearing your NCLEX and practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a province of your choice. As compared to the Middle East, Canada allows a much more relaxed environment overall for foreign nurses.

  • Stability:

Canada is a land of opportunities, and with its healthcare sector facing a shortage of nurses, the demand for foreign nurses is high. In order to fill the gap and to avoid any sort of scarcity in its healthcare sector, Canada is accepting applications from foreign nurses from all around the world. As compared to developing countries, Canada is more stable, financially rich and has a vast pool of opportunities for foreign nurses. There are different jobs with varying pay scales all over the country for nurses in their given specializations. Nursing is seen as a stable job option in Canada as the country requires foreign nurses in high numbers. It is Canada’s second most sought after profession and offers a fair deal of stability for every Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) planning to move. Along with the job security, nurses have the option to choose a job as per their specialization in any given province all over Canada. For example, if you have completed your nursing program in Toronto, but you want to move to a different province, then you have the option of doing it.

If you’re a foreign nurse living in the Middle East or the Philippines who is planning to study nursing in Canada, then job stability will not be a concern for you. Since the Canadian healthcare system requires nurses in huge numbers at present, all you must do is clear the required exams upon the completion of your nursing education in Canada. Once you do that, you can become a part of the nursing workforce there. Being one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, you can have a stable and secure future in Canada because of the ample opportunities the country offers for all Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs). Keeping in mind the acute shortage of nurses in Canada, you can select a relevant nursing program as per your specialization and land a job in any healthcare setting all over the country.

  • Remunerations:

Considered as a country with one of the best healthcare systems in the world, Canada also offers high remunerations to foreign nurses. It is a profession which is not only held in high regard and respected for its attributes but is also a very well paid one. As a foreign nurse planning to study nursing in Canada, you can be assured that financial security will not be an issue. RN pay rates in Canada start at 29 Canadian Dollars (CAD) per hour and go as high as 53 CAD based on experience, with Advanced Practice Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Managers falling in the upper category of the salary bracket. The pay scales vary according to the qualification the nurses possess and are different in every province. Remunerations are on the higher side for nurses and the pre-requisite of financial security is met for all Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) who study nursing in Canada and then practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) afterwards. The pay scales for nurses in Canada vary according to the provinces you’re practicing in. For instance, if you have studied a nursing program in Toronto and you practice as an RN in British Columbia, then the pay scale for that province would be different than the pay scale for Ontario for instance. But as a foreign nurse, there are many monetary benefits when you practice as an RN in Canada given that it’s financially stable and nursing is one of the highest paid professions in the country.

If you are planning to study nursing in Canada and get an opportunity to be a part of the Canadian healthcare workforce, then do not miss it. You can study the best nursing programs in Canada and make a difference to patient-care on a global level thereafter. Being one of the most developed countries of the world, there are ample opportunities for all foreign nurses who want to learn healthcare practices and tools practiced in Canada. With a deepened sense of dedication and catering to patients from all walks of life, nurses shape the future of any healthcare setting in any country. So, nurses, if you’re planning to study nursing in Canada and thinking of having a future there, then now is the right time.


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