Acquire new skills

Options for Continuing Education

There are a variety of programs and initiatives in place to enhance nurses’ current knowledge and skills. Many are offered by nursing colleges and regulatory bodies, as well as by provincial nursing associations and special interest nursing associations. Also, inquire through your local university and college nursing or health sciences programs or faculty of continuing education for specific nursing skill enhancement programs.

  • You can search the Canadian Nurses Association list of nursing education programs for continuing education programs.
  • These sector specific nursing associations may offer continuing education programs.
  • HealthForceOntario maintains an list of Ontario specific funded nursing continuing education opportunities.
  • NEW If you are a RN interested in practising
    in a family practice/primary care setting George Brown College is
    offering a certificate program in Family Practice Nursing for Registered
    Nurses starting in September 2011. The program is two semesters long
    and mostly online. Learn more by visiting <> and
    searching “Family Practice.”

Nursing Best Practice Guideline opportunities

Since 1999, thousands of Ontario nurses and health-care organizations have contributed to the development, implementation and evaluation of 42 nursing Best Practice Guidelines (BPGs). (The International Affairs & Best Practice Guidelines Program or IABPG is the signature program of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, with funding from the Government of Ontario, which focuses on the dissemination, implementation and evaluation of BPGs.)

These BPGs are critical to the advancement of nursing care excellence because they are evidence-based. Evidence-based health interventions are proven to be effective because they are based on systemic empirical research. Not only are they better for patients, they make for a more efficient health-care system.

There are several different ways RNs can get involved with contributing to BPG advancement and therefore enhance their evidence-based nursing practice competencies, including:

  • being an expert panel member;
  • being an external stakeholder reviewer;
  • being a BPG champion of evidence-informed decision-making in nursing practice, academia, management and policy.

Learn more about RNAO's Best Practice Guidelines. Below you will find a few more continuing education options.

Advanced Clinic/Practice Fellowship (ACPF) Program

This 12-week (450 hour) program is funded by the Ontario government and aims to strengthen nursing clinical knowledge and expertise. ACPF Fellows work with Masters prepared nurse mentors to enhance their knowledge and skill in a practice area. In Ontario, potential Fellows and their organizations apply to RNAO for funding. Fellows use their experience to learn about, implement and help sustain specific clinical or healthy work environment BPGs. They assist their organizations in becoming a Best Practice Spotlight Organization (BPSO) and support BPG Champions in their roles.

Learn more about RNAO Best Practice Guidelines workshops and conferences at the RNAO IABPG Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence.

CNA Certification

The nursing profession is dedicated to establishing and maintaining high standards of care, which is why lifelong learning is promoted by the Canadian Nurses Association Certification credential.

The national nursing certification program in Canada is voluntary, and confirms that an RN has competencies in one of 19 nursing specialty/areas of nursing practice. More than 16,000 nurses coast-to-coast have achieved certification in various areas of nursing practice. Candidates must first take the Initial Certification Exam; renewal is necessary every five years.

CNA Certification shows nurses have taken initiative to keep their skills up to date and maintain professional competencies, which may be recognized by provincial governing colleges and employers alike.

Funding for Continuing Education

Nursing Education Initiative

In order to encourage and support continuing education and professional development, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care established a Nursing Education Initiative Fund. Nurses in Ontario undertaking professional development courses or programs are eligible for reimbursement of up to $1,500. (Nurses who have not received $1,500 from this fund will be given top priority; application does not guarantee funding.) See for more details.

Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario

This charitable foundation provides financial support for nurses and nursing students to advance their education and engage in research — including funds for continuing education at the baccalaureate and graduate levels. Learn more at RNFOO.

Canadian Nurses Foundation

This organization, committed to financially supporting Canadian nurses higher education, will reimburse the fees of the CNA certification exam, certification renewal exam or renewal by continuous learning for two nurses in each of the 19 areas of specialties/areas of nursing practice each year. It also offers a number of scholarships and other continuing educations financial support. Learn more at Canadian Nurses Foundation.