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Registered Nurse

What is a Registered Nurse?

The nursing profession is incredibly diverse and offers a wide array of career paths! Factors that may determine the path you wish to pursue within nursing include:

  • The type of environment you want to work in (ex. hospital, community clinic, home care, research, etc.)
  • The type of patient you would like to work with (ex. youth, seniors, individuals with disabilities, individuals with mental illness, specific cultural groups, etc.)
  • The type of schedule you would like to work (ex. Shift work, 9-5, part-time, full-time, etc.)
  • Your personal passion, motivations, and professional interest(s) — there are many areas a nurse can specialize in!

According to the Canadian Nurses Association, there are 5 main domains of nursing:


Nurse administrators coordinate nursing services, supervise staff, develop policies, and prepare and manage budgets.

Clinical care

Clinical care nurses provide health-care services to individuals, families and communities to help them achieve their optimal level of health. They coordinate health care and support clients in self-care.


All nurses are teachers by helping people learn to optimize health throughout their lives. A nurse may also choose to be a nurse educator, supporting nurses as they care for clients or helping future nurses enter the profession or advance their career.


Nurses working in policy provide advice on health-care issues to all levels of government and to stakeholders in all health settings. They monitor, advocate and critique health-care trends and issues as well as provide recommendations for improvement.


Nurse researchers review health-care evidence, ask questions, test hypotheses, highlight implications and make recommendations.

Salary Range

“Generally speaking, rates of RN pay are based on a years of service scales, and start at $21.75 per hour reaching as high as $40 per hour.

In acute care, new graduates are paid $30.17 hourly for annual salary of $58,831.50. The full-time RN base rate range run from first year pay of $28.08 an hour ($53,040 a year) to 25-year pay of $40 an hour ($78,000 a year), according to the Ontario Nurses’ Association.

Overtime pay is typically one and a half times the hourly rate. Advanced Practice Nurses, Nurse Practitioners and nurse managers (who have earned Masters degree or higher) earn higher salaries.”

Source: https://cna-aiic.ca/en/nursing-practice/the-practice-of-nursing/becoming-an-rn
  • Entry-level wage $21.75 - $28.08 per hour
  • The average salary for a Registered Nurse is $37.69 per hour in Canada
  • 25-year pay of $40 an hour ($78,000 a year)
Source: http://careersinnursing.ca/new-grads-and-job-seekers/find-nursing-job/dollars-and-sense-what-are-nurses-paid
Schooling Entry Requirements

Required courses vary by school and program, but, generally, students should have:

  • A high school diploma
  • Grade 12 English
  • Grade 12 Biology
  • Grade 12 Chemistry
  • One or more grade 12 math courses (schools may have specific requirements)

It is important to note that each school and program will have minimum average requirements, and many schools indicate that their admissions process is highly competitive.

Many schools have designated Indigenous application pathways, which take into consideration the unique needs of Indigenous students.

Some schools will require students to complete additional assessments. For example, the CASPer test, which evaluates personal and professional characteristics.


In order to practice as a nurse in Ontario, you must obtain a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BScN). There two primary pathways students may take to obtain this degree:

  1. Pursue a BScN directly out of high-school

This is a 4-year degree program and will include practical work experience. This program is offered at:

  • Brock University
  • Lakehead University
  • Laurentian University
  • McMaster University
  • Nipissing University
  • Queens University
  • Trent Fleming
  • UOIT
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Windsor
  • Western University
  • York University
  1. Complete some university-level science courses and take a ‘compressed’ or ‘accelerated’ BScN degree program

For university students that have prior university-level science courses already ‘under their belt’ and wish to shift their studies towards nursing, an ‘accelerated’ program is an excellent option. Many schools offer this program.

  1. Pursue an RPN diploma and later participate in a RPN-to-BScN ‘bridging program’

College-trained Practical Nurses can choose to pursue additional education through a ‘bridging’ program, in order to obtain their RN designation. Program lengths and format (part-time vs full-time) vary by school.



Schooling Options

This program is offered at:

  • Brock University
  • Lakehead University
  • Laurentian University
  • McMaster University
  • Nipissing University
  • Queens University
  • Trent Fleming
  • UOIT
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Windsor
  • Western University
  • York University
Professional Requirements

In addition to the requirements of the College of Nurses of Ontario, employers may outline additional role-specific requirements. For example:

  • The ability to perform patient lifts and transfers
  • A valid driver’s license and access to a reliable and insured personal vehicle

Additional certifications

Professional Body

To become a Registered Nurse in Ontario and use the designation ‘RN’, you must be registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario. Requirements for registration include:

  • Completion of a nursing education program (university)
  • Evidence of practice (usually gained as part of your degree)
  • Complete the NCLEX-RN examination
  • Complete an examination on the laws and regulations involved in the nursing profession (jurisprudence)
  • Submit to a police check
  • Proficiency in English or French
  • Declare if you have any health conditions that would affect your practice


Additionally, nurses can pursue certification in one of 22 nursing specialties through the Canadian Nurses Association.

In Ontario, Registered Nurses can also join the RNAO, which is a professional organization.

Sources: http://www.cno.org/en/become-a-nurse/new-applicants1/ontario/registration-requirements-for-rns-and-rpns/



Interested in Pursuing This Career?

Contact your Youth Service Officer for more information on available programs and training to help get you started on your career path!