Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse in Canada!

Nurse licensing in Canada

Do you want to make an impact in the health sector of Canada? International students can pursue their dreams of becoming nurses. Two popular nursing career options are Registered Nursing and Licensed Practical Nursing – both have unique processes students must complete in order to be eligible to practice as nurses in Canada and in their specific province or territory.

How to Become a Registered Nurse?

  • Complete an Undergraduate Degree in Nursing – The first step to becoming a Registered Nurse is to complete an undergraduate program in nursing in Canada. Several nursing programs in Canada are accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing; accreditation promotes excellence and is recognized worldwide as an important, objective method to assess professional education programs.
  • Complete Provincial/Territorial Registration – Future Registered Nurses will also have to register with the provincial or territorial nursing regulatory body in the province they intend to practice in. Applications will require a number of different types of documentation; documentation could include proof of education, proof of status (work permit) identification documents, criminal record checks, and more. Checking the exact requirements of each province will be imperative as they do vary. Below are links to each RN provincial/territorial regulatory body:
  • Participate in Provisional Registration – After you have completed your nursing education, there may be a waiting period before your registration and examination. During this period, you should apply for provisional registration; this registration is for eligible applicants who want to work while meeting their outstanding registration requirements. There is no separate application for provisional registration. So, you will be asked if you want to be considered for provisional registration when you complete your application for practising registered nurse registration online and you’ll select yes if you want to work while awaiting your examination date or results.
  • Complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) – In order to become licensed Registered Nurses, all nursing graduations must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). In order to be eligible for this exam, students must submit a number of documents, including relevant ID. Further, nursing graduates pursuing RN status must complete any provincial registration as well; more information on this is below. The NCLEX exam is in place to test the competencies nurses require at the beginning of their careers including but not limited to assessing a client’s needs for pain management, performing calculations needed to safely administer medications, and maintaining client confidentiality and privacy. Please note Quebec is the exception to this rule and administers its own exam.
Nursing license in Canada

How to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse?

  • Complete a Practical Nursing program – The first step to becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada is to complete an approved Practical Nursing program within Canada. LPN programs are generally shorter in length than RN programs and are usually designated as diploma programs. A list of recognized practical nursing programs in Canada is available here.
  • Complete Provincial/Territorial Registration – Those wishing to become LPN’s must register with the nursing body of the province they wish to practice in. Applications for registration will be required and include a number of steps such as document submissions, payments, and confirmation. Below are links to each LPN provincial/territorial  regulatory body.
  • Participate in Provisional Registration – When applying for registration with your province’s specific college, you can choose to be assessed for provisional registration. You will want to proceed with this should you wish to work while awaiting your examination date or awaiting examination results. An LPN holding provisional registration can provide practical nursing services to clients subject to any limits and/or conditions imposed by the registration committee of the province in question
  • Complete the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE) – In order to become Licensed Practical Nurses, graduates must complete the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE). This is a national examination put in place to assess the competencies required of nurses at the beginning of their nursing career. Competencies include but are not limited to developing nurse-client relationships, respecting client rights to self-determination, and responding to incidents of professional misconduct. Again, to apply for the exam you must submit ID and other relevant documents.

International students are able to become Registered Nurses and/or Licensed Practical Nurses in Canada provided they follow all the necessary steps as outlined above. A list of the accredited nursing program is available here; also, be advised students do not necessarily have to enrol in an accredited program in order to become Registered Nurses. In sum, these steps include completing a relevant educational program, applying for registration with a province, applying for provisional registration, and completing the required provincial examination in order to become a registered nurse here in Canada!

Sources: casn, nursing programs, NCSBN, CCPNR

Please see individual province links


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