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Considering a career in nursing? Here's what one expert says you should know

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of health-care workers has significantly declined as burned-out nurses seek new professions and the demand for staff in hospitals across Canada have increased.

While some are second-guessing their career choices, others are thinking of pursing a profession that is in high demand year-round across the country.

But what does it take to become a nurse in Canada? Here’s what one expert says you should know.


The industry has nearly 35,000 vacant job openings as of the first quarter of 2023, according to Statistics Canada and if you’re looking to work in nursing you should consider first what type of nurse you want to be.

In Canada, the two dominant types of nurses are registered nurses (RNs) and registered practical nurses (RPNs). In order to become an RPN, you would need to complete a college diploma program, or a four-year university program for an RN. Both pathways require a licensing exam, said Jake Mossop, a registered nurse in Ontario, in an interview with CTV’s Your Morning earlier this week.

“This gets you licensed as a nurse, and then you have to register to your regulatory body in your province because nursing is a regulated health profession,” said Mossop.

After completing the academic requirements for nursing, Mossop said, you can choose to pursue your master’s or doctorate or explore some of the many non-traditional career paths that come with the flexibility of a nursing degree and that aren’t just front-line roles in hospitals or academia.

Other nursing roles can include home care nursing, cosmetic, forensic and even working with a mobile crisis intervention team, which is a group of nurses who go with specially-trained police officers out into the community to respond to 911 calls involving those who are experiencing mental health crises.“It's literally endless, there's so many options,” said Mossop.


Though Mossop admits that nursing is a difficult profession, it can also be a great career choice for those who are looking to improve on or apply their own cultural sensitivity knowledge in connecting with patients with different backgrounds, he said.

He added that having skills like patience and empathy is needed for connecting with people from various life situations and lifestyles, and emphasized that having strong communication and critical thinking skills is helpful for problem-solving.

Additionally, Mossop said, prospective nurses should be aware that they often don't get taught in school to consider the mental-health effects that nurses face in the industry, as a result of witnessing patients experiencing some of the most difficult and vulnerable stages of their life.

According to a 2021 survey by the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions, two in three nurses reported their mental health as being worse than it was earlier in the pandemic, and more than 94 cent of nurses reported experiencing symptoms of burnout— a state of mental or physical exhaustion caused by prolonged stress.

“So really focusing on that work-life balance, knowing what resources are available to you, so as to not burnout,” said Mossop. 

Reporting for this story was paid for through The Canadian Journalism Foundation's Black Journalism Fellowship.


A previous version of this story misstated the education requirements for registered nurses and registered practical nurses. This story has been corrected. Top Stories

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