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The Key to Starting a Successful Nursing Practice in Canada

Now that NCLEX is the required licensure for international nurses - even those who have passed the US - NCLEX - what are the steps and requirements towards a successful career and migration pathway as an RN in Canada?

Originally posted on September 5, 2015; updated July 4, 2016

The Key to Starting a Successful Nursing Practice in Canada


Now that Canada has adopted the NCLEX as the qualifying exam for international nurses (referred to in Canada usually as an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN) knowing the official, legal steps and requirements to practice your occupation is critical.

Like the U.S., Canada does not have one national body regulating the practice of registered nurses.  Each state in the U.S. has its own Board of Nursing, and is a member of the National Council on State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).  However, there is only one national examination for licensure, the NCLEX.

Before one can be issued a license to practice, the foreign RN must be assessed regarding his or her academic credentials, training, experience, English proficiency, and status of Philippine licensure.  In the U.S, evaluation of credentials is spearheaded by the CGFNS.

In Canada, the counterpart of CGFNS is the National Nursing Advisory Service (NNAS)

Each provincial/territorial government in Canada is responsible for delivering its health care and regulating its health-care professions. Provinces and territories grant responsibility for nursing regulation to professional colleges and/or nursing associations.

A foreign or international nurse must be licensed to practice in the U.S.  In Canada, the iEN must apply for registration with the specific College of Association of RNs in the province where one intends to practice.

Most if not all Colleges or Associations of Nursing in Canada require an IEN to first have credential evaluation through NNAS which then issues and forwards an advisory report (to a specific Canadian RN regulatory authority) on the eligibility of an IEN to apply for registration.

Currently, most IENs – even those who have passed the US-NCLEX – must have an NNAS assessment and complete a Substantially Equivalent Competency course (SEC) in order to meet the clinical practice requirements in Canada.

To save time and resources for our Florence Nightingale Friends and their families, we have compiled the list of each Canadian province’s College or Association of Registered Nurses with a link on how to comply with the Substantially Equivalent Competency (SEC).

If you find this useful, please share the link with your Friends so that others may also benefit.  We have done the homework so you may pass the test – soonest!

Good luck.

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