Career Map: Nurse
This document was updated in collaboration with the Labour Market Integration Unit, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in August 2008. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Nurses of Ontario before you complete your application.
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario, © 2008. This career map may be used or reproduced by any third party for non-commercial, not-for-profit purposes, provided that no fee, payment or royalty of any kind shall be charged by the third party for any further use or reproduction of the career map by any person. Any proposed commercial or for-profit use or reproduction of this career map requires a written license from the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario.
Nursing in Ontario
The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO or College) is the regulatory body for nursing in Ontario. It is not an academic institution or school.
In Ontario, nurses are self- regulating health professionals. Self-regulation is a privilege granted to professions that have the ability to put the public interest first. Self regulation means that the profession governs itself through the College and individual members.
CNO’s role is to protect the public’s right to quality nursing services by providing leadership to the nursing profession. It does this by establishing requirements for becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN), establishing and enforcing the standards of practice and managing quality assurance programs to help nurses maintain competence throughout their careers.
Within the nursing profession, only RNs and RPNs are authorised to perform the procedures within the three controlled acts authorised to nursing and RNs registered in the Extended Class are allowed to perform certain other controlled acts.
Only those with a current Certificate of Registration can practise as a nurse in Ontario, or use the titles ”nurse”, “Registered Nurse,” or “Registered Practiced Nurse.” An annual fee is required to maintain a current Certificate of Registration.
Expectations of Nurses
In Ontario, nursing is one profession with two categories – (RNs) and (RPNs). RNs and RPNs study from the same body of nursing knowledge. Programs for RN students are longer and more in depth, while RPN students study for a shorter time, resulting in a more focused body of knowledge. This difference in knowledge influences the level of a nurse’s autonomy, which is affected by the complexity of the client’s condition.
Who is involved with registration?
Registration is a process that involves the applicant, CNO and other official sources such as your school, employer(s) and registration board. The responsibilities of each group are listed below.
Applicants are people who want to practice nursing in Ontario. Applicants are responsible for the following:
- reading the contents of this registration guide and the application package
- asking for clarification or assistance when needed
- requesting a written or verbal update on the status of your application
- contacting school employer (s) and registration boards to ensure they have sent their documents to the College
- acquiring the necessary nursing knowledge; skill and judgement to enter the profession
- learning about Ontario’s health care system and nursing profession
The College includes the Executive Director, Registration and Customer Service Teams. The College will do the following:
- set (through government legislation) the registration requirements
- provide information about the registration requirements and the assessment process
- assess applications and determine whether requirements are met
- inform applicants of the status of their application
- evaluate documents, and when necessary, ask the applicants to request additional information from schools, employers, or the regulatory body
- administer the national nursing exams
- issue Certificates of Registration
- present applications that do not meet all the requirements to the Registration Committee
The Registration Committee
(Committee of the College)
This Committee makes decisions about applicants who do not meet registration requirements. The Committee can:
- instruct those applicants on how to meet requirements
- direct the Executive Director to refuse applications for registration
- impose terms, conditions and or limits on a Certificate of Registratio.
Official sources are institutions that provide original or certified copies of your key documents used to evaluate your application. These sources include schools, employers, nursing registration boards and language-testing services. Occasionally, official sources may send incorrect or incomplete information. In some cases, no information exists. The College will work with you to obtain the documents and information necessary for your evaluation. Statutory declarations are acceptable to the College if an applicant can provide evidence that he or she cannot obtain the required documentation for reasons beyond his or her control.
Classes of Registration
There are six classes of registration: General, Temporary, Special Assignment, Extended, Retired and Transitional.
This is the most common class of registration.
People who have met all of the registration requirements, except passing the Canadian Registered Nurse Examination (CRNE) or the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPRNE)PNRE), can still practise as a member. If you have evidence of recent practice one year from the date of your application and have a written offer of employment, you may apply for temporary registration.
Temporary registration is granted for a six-month period and restricts practice to a specific employment setting. If you fail the exam while holding temporary registration, the Certificate of Registration is automatically revoked. You are not eligible for temporary registration if you have previously failed the registration examination. Once you pass the exam, you are eligible for General Class registration.
Special Assignment Class
This is a short-term, non-renewable registration for individuals, usually from outside Ontario, who have an appointment or assignment as an RN or RPN with an approved facility, and who do not plan to stay in Ontario for more than one year. People in this class of registration can only practise within the scope of her or his appointment and under defined terms, limits and conditions.
Extended Class Registration
Only RNs who have obtained advanced education and passed the Extended Class (EC) examination can register in this class. RN (EC)s can obtain certificates in four specialities: Primary Health Care, Adult, Paediatrics and Anaesthesia. RN (EC)s have an expanded scope of practice in the areas of assessment, diagnosis, prescription of tests and treatments, and health promotion.
The Retired Class is an option for Ontario nurses aged 65 or older who have permanently retired from nursing practice. This class allows members to use the title “Registered Nurse (retired)” or “Registered Practical Nurse (retired)” even though they are no longer in active practice. Nurses in this class cannot practise as nurses in an employed or volunteer capacity.
The Transitional Class will allow members of other Canadian nursing regulatory bodies who have graduated after January 1, 2005, and who do not meet the new education requirements, to register and work in Ontario for a limited time while pursuing further nursing studies to meet the entry-to-practice education requirement. RNs have four years and RPNs have two years to complete the further studies to meet the requirement.
Requirements for Becoming a Nurse in Ontario
You will need to meet the following seven requirements to obtain a General Certificate.
- Completion of an acceptable nursing or practical nursing program.
- Evidence of recent safe nursing practice.
- Passing the national nursing registration examination.
- Fluency in written and spoken English or French.
- Registration (or eligibility for registration) in the jurisdiction you completed your nursing program.
- Proof of Canadian Citizenship, Permanent Residency or authorization under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act ( Canada) to engage in nursing practice.
- Suitability to practice, which includes information on the following if:
- Your nursing licence has ever been denied, encumbered, revoked, suspended, restricted or surrendered
- you are currently under investigation or involved in proceedings for professional misconduct, incompetence or incapacity
- you have an offence under the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act(Canada) or the Food and Drug Act (Canada)
- you have any criminal convictions
- you have any physical or mental condition/illness that may affect your ability to practice
The following pages provide detailed explanation of each of the seven requirements. For more information, see our Online Registration Guide for International Applicants at www.cno.org.
Before you Come to Canada
The College of Nurses of Ontario strongly recommends you begin the application process before coming to Canada. You can write, fax, e-mail or telephone our office in Toronto to request an application package. See the address at the end of this document.
You can fill out the application form and mail it along with the application fee. Apart from mailing in your application form you can pre-assess yourself using our Interactive Fact sheet. Steps you can take to meet some of the requirements are meeting fluency requirements, arranging for documentation to be mailed out from the source.
The College can assess and provide you an assessment of your application while you are still in your country.
Labour Market Information
Ontario Job Futures (PDF)
Over the next five years: Good
Employment for this occupation is expected to grow more rapidly than the average for all occupations through the year 2009. Because of the large size of this occupational group, many more job openings will be created over the medium term from the need to replace workers who retire or leave. In addition to strong growth, recent changes requiring all new registered nurses to have a four-year bachelor degree in nursing (BScN) may curtail the number of new graduates. The Canadian Nurses Association predicts a shortage of 59,000-113,000 nurses nationally (excluding Quebec) by 2011. To meet longer term needs, the Government of Ontario has committed $10 million for PhD nursing program over four years starting in 2004-05 which will increase the supply of nurses with PhDs and help educate the next generation of nurses.
Nurses' roles will change as new technology continues to be introduced at the bedside and as nurses are allowed to perform more advanced procedures. Restructuring of the health care system, including specialization and the shift from institutional to home care is also changing the locations of work, skills and requirements for nurses. Nurses are encouraged to consider taking on additional training and qualifications, such as nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses who have a master's degree. They provide basic primary health care that complements that provided by physicians, such as diagnosing and treating common acute illnesses and injuries and prescribing medicine.
For more information on registration, contact:
Provincial Regulatory Body
College of Nurses of Ontario
101 Davenport Road
Toronto, Ontario M5R 3P1
Toll Free: 1-800-387-5526
Web site: www.cno.org
For other information, contact:
Registered Nurses Association of Ontario
438 University Avenue, Suite 1600
Toronto, Ontario M5G 2K8
Telephone: (416) 599-1925
Toll Free: 1-800-268-7199
Fax: (416) 599-1926
Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario
5025 Orbitor Drive
Building 4, Suite 200
Mississauga, Ontario L4W 4Y5
Telephone: (905) 602-4664 or
Fax: (905) 602-4666
Ontario Nurses Association (ONA)
85 Grenville Avenue, Suite 600
Telephone: (416) 964-8833
Toll Free: 1-800-387-5580
Fax: (416) 964-8864
Practical Nurses Federation of Ontario
5025 Orbitor Drive
Building 4, Suite 200
Mississauga, Ontario L4W 4Y5
Telephone: (905) 602-6705
Fax: (905) 602-4666
For information on where and how to get help with settlement in Ontario contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A3
Telephone: (416) 322-4950
Fax: (416) 322-8084
For a government contact about accessing health related professions in Ontario:
Health Force Ontario
Access Centre for Internationally
163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto ON M5A 1S1
Tel: 416-862-2200 or 1-800-596-4046 or 1-800-596-4046 ext. 4
Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario, © 2008.