Career Map: Nurse

This document was updated in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration in July 2014. Requirements may have changed by the time you apply. Please contact the College of Nurses of Ontario to make sure you have up-to-date information about registration requirements.

Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen's Printer for Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario, © 2014. 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

In Ontario, nursing is one profession with two categories: Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs). Both 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. Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are RNs with additional education and experience who have an expanded scope of practice, including the authority to diagnose illnesses, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications and perform procedures.

The College of Nurses of Ontario is the regulatory body for all nurses in Ontario. It establishes the requirements for becoming an RN, RPN, or NP in Ontario, establishes and enforces the standards of practice, and manages a quality assurance program to help nurses maintain competence throughout their careers.

Becoming a member of the College is a legal requirement for anyone who wishes to practise as a nurse in Ontario. Only College members can practise nursing in Ontario and use the titles “nurse,” “Registered Nurse (RN),” “Registered Practical Nurse (RPN),” or “Nurse Practitioner (NP)” within the province.

Applying to the College

For information about how to apply to the College, visit the “Become a Nurse” section of the College’s website. The College has prepared several registration guides for applicants based on where they received their nursing education and the type of nursing they wish to practise in Ontario.

All applicants to the College must meet registration requirements related to their nursing education/experience, language proficiency and citizenship. They must also disclose any health and/or personal conduct issues that may affect their ability to practise nursing. Applicants also write a registration examination and a separate examination testing their knowledge of nursing legislation and regulation in Ontario. Visit for further details on each of these requirements.

Before you come to Canada

You can begin your application process before coming to Canada. This can be done by opening an account with the National Nursing Assessment Service, a national online application service developed by Canadian nursing regulatory bodies.

NNAS is the mandatory first step for all applicants who received their nursing education at a school located outside of Canada and are not registered to practise anywhere within Canada in the category (RN or RPN) that they’re applying for.

Once NNAS has completed its assessment of your credentials, you will then receive information about how to apply to the College and complete the registration process.

Labour Market Information

Employment Prospects

Over the next few years: Good

Given that recent upward trends should remain steady, the number of registered nurses is expected to increase significantly in the next few years. Opportunities will open up mainly through retirement and, to a lesser degree, from employment increase.

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. Responsibilities of NPs in particular are increasing, and so NP applicants are encouraged to consider taking on additional training and qualifications.


For more information on registration, contact:

College of Nurses of Ontario
101 Davenport Road
Toronto, ON M5R 3P1
Telephone: 416-928-0900
Toll free: 1-800-387-5526
Fax: 416-928-6507

For other information, contact:

Professional Associations

Registered Nurses Association of Ontario
438 University Avenue, Suite 1600
Toronto, ON 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, ON L4W 4Y5
Telephone: 905-602-4664 or
Fax: 905-602-4666

Trade Unions

Ontario Nurses Association (ONA)
85 Grenville Avenue, Suite 600
Toronto, ON M5S 3A2
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, ON 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, ON 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 Educated Professionals
163 Queen Street East, 2nd Floor
Toronto ON M5A 1S1
Telephone: 416-862-2200 or 1-800-596-4046 or 1-800-596-4046 ext. 4
TTY: 416-862-4817
Fax. 416-862-4818

Copyright in this career map is held jointly by the Queen’s Printer for Ontario and the College of Nurses of Ontario, © 2014.