Want to be a nurse?
You’ll start out as a generalist and then likely develop a specialty.
Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs)
Since 2005, all RPNs in Ontario must earn a diploma in Practical Nursing by taking a program consisting of four semesters over two years in a college program leading to a diploma in Practical Nursing. Because an RPN’s education is less comprehensive and more focused, RPNs’ careers are most appropriately suited to patients with less complex needs, and patients with stable and predictable conditions.
Registered Nurses (RNs)
Since 2005, all Ontario RNs must have a baccalaureate degree. RNs either take a collaborative college-university nursing program or a four-year university nursing program — both leading to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BScN) or Bachelor of Nursing degree (BN). Because an RN’s education is more comprehensive, they have a deeper knowledge base to draw on in areas such as clinical practice, critical thinking and research utilization. RNs can care for patients with more complex needs in unpredictable situations.
An NP is a RN with advanced university education who provides personalized, quality health care to patients. Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Education in Ontario is delivered by a consortium of nine universities under COUPN (Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing). There are four NP specialties in the extended class: primary health care, adult, pediatric care and anaesthesia.
YOUR CAREER PATH
RNs are prepared as generalists. So when you graduate, you’ll be confident in your skills and knowledge to practice on all people with any illness and in any setting. But as you move along gaining experiencing, shifting from novice to expert, you will build on your entry-level competencies.
Areas of practiceRNs may work in dozens of different areas of practice from public health or palliative care. Don’t know where to begin? Here are four “practice profiles” (researched and written by the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario). Get a glimpse of a day in the life of a nurse who works in each of these areas, find out what education you need to work in the field, and learn about the scope of practice.Home Health NursingOccupational Health NursingPalliative careParish/Faith Community Nursing
Some of you may focus your practice in a particular field of nursing. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) offers voluntary certification in 20 nursing areas — an excellent way to maintain high standards of care in your practice. More than 17,000 nurses coast-to-coast have achieved certification in various specialties. (Candidates must first take the Initial Certification Exam; renewal is necessary every five years.)
The credentials can be added to your title RN; certification shows nurses have taken initiative to keep their skills up to date and maintain professional competencies, which are recognized by provincial governing colleges and employers alike.
Specialization may relate to patient age (pediatrics, gerontology), health problem (pain management), diagnostic group (orthopedics), the practice setting (emergency, school, research institution), type of care (palliative, critical, occupational) and a combination of these.
Here is a complete list of specialties (for which) certification is available.
Community Health Nursing
Critical Care Nursing
Critical Care Pediatric Nursing
Enterostomal Therapy Nursing
Hospice Palliative Care Nursing
Occupational Health Nursing
Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Find out how to become a nurse here.