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Nursing Education

You must demonstrate the successful completion of a nursing education program designed to prepare you for the type of nursing (RN, RPN or NP) that you want to practise in Ontario.

Most applicants meet this requirement by completing a nursing program approved by the College’s Council or by a body authorized by Council (e.g., the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing) to approve nursing programs. 

For more information about the process for meeting the nursing education requirement relevant to the type of nurse you are applying to register as in Ontario, click one of the links below.

Type of applicant

Minimum education requirement

Registered Nurse An approved Canadian university baccalaureate degree in nursing
Registered Practical Nurse An approved Ontario college diploma program in practical nursing
Nurse Practitioner An approved Ontario university NP program in the specialty for which you are applying

If you have not completed an approved nursing program, then the College will assess your nursing education to determine whether it’s equivalent to that of an approved program.

"Equivalent" means you received an education that provided you with the nursing knowledge, skill and judgment at least equivalent to that of a current graduate from an approved nursing program.

“I have a medical degree. Does that meet the nursing education requirement?”

No. If you were trained as a doctor, midwife, medical technician or any health professional, then your education will not be taken into consideration, even if that education allowed you to carry out the duties of a nurse in your home country. Applicants who cannot provide evidence of nursing education will not be permitted to proceed with their application until they can demonstrate the successful completion of a nursing program that meets the education requirement.
 Nursing competencies

Competencies are the building blocks of nursing practice. They are the behavioural actions that require a nurse to bring their depth of knowledge, skill and judgment to their role, allowing them to safely practise and adapt to changes in a health-care environment.

The College has prepared three documents that list the competencies that all applicants, depending on the type of nurse they're applying to be, must demonstrate before they can practise in Ontario:

Applicants are required to demonstrate the nursing knowledge, skill and judgement by meeting all required competencies as outlined in the competency documents applicable to the type of nurse (RN, RPN or NP) that the applicant wants to register as.

When the College considers your application, it looks at all your nursing education, from your original nursing program to any additional nursing courses or programs you may have completed. We do this to determine if all your education included the competencies required to meet the nursing education requirement.

If an assessment of your education finds that you demonstrate the required nursing knowledge, skill and judgment, then you are eligible to write the registration exam.

If an assessment identifies competency gaps, then you may be required to either go through additional assessment or to complete additional education so that you can address those gaps. 

“I have a diploma that allows me to practise as a RN in my home country. Will that satisfy the nursing education requirement for RN applicants?”

Nursing education and standards of nursing competence differ from one country to the next. Even if your nursing program was recognized as one that allowed you to practise as an RN in your home country, there is no guarantee that it will meet the College’s nursing education requirement. Because of this, most RN applicants who completed a nursing program in another country must undergo additional assessment before they can write the registration exam.

This assessment takes into account their initial nursing program, additional nursing education they may have completed, and any nursing practice experience they may have. Applicants who can provide evidence of nursing practice are also assessed an independent body that reports its findings back to the College.

Applicants who continue to show competency gaps after further assessment may be asked to complete additional education and/or training to meet the education requirement. Re-applying as a Registered Practical Nurse is another option for some RN applicants in this situation, especially those whose competencies are more in line with those required of an Ontario RPN.

Assessing your nursing education

In some cases, the College may determine that an applicant’s nursing education is not equivalent to the education provided in an approved program. When this happens, the College helps applicants identify the competency gaps in their nursing education.

The College does this so that applicants can get the additional help they need in order to meet the nursing education requirement and proceed with their registration.

The way in which the College assesses applicants with competency gaps is determined by the type of nurse the applicant is applying to become and whether the applicant has provided evidence of nursing practice with their application:  

 FOR RN APPLICANTS
If competency gaps in your education are identified and you have evidence of practice as a nurse... …then we will perform a paper-based review of information about your nursing practice.
If competency gaps in your education and practice are identified or you do not have evidence of practice as a nurse... ...then you will be offered the chance to complete an outside evaluation, which consists of an Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), interviews and a short multiple-choice exam. The results of that evaluation, together with the other information you provide, will help us determine whether you are eligible to write your registration exam.
If competency gaps are identified after the evaluation of both your nursing education and any practice you may have… …then you will be asked to complete further education to address those gaps.
FOR RPN AND NP APPLICANTS
If competency gaps in your education are identified and you have evidence of practice as a nurse... ...then we will perform a paper-based review of the information about your nursing practice.
If competency gaps in your education and practice are identified or you do not have evidence of practice as a nurse... …then you will be asked to complete a Competency Assessment Supplement (CAS). A review of that CAS, together with all other information you provide us, will help determine whether you are eligible to write the registration exam.
If competency gaps are identified after the evaluation of both your nursing education and any practice you may have… then you will be asked to complete further education to address those gaps.
Page last reviewed October 21, 2016