How to Become a Registered Nurse in Ontario 2023: A Complete Guide for IENs

Are you an Internationally Educated Nurse(IEN) dreaming of a fulfilling career in Ontario, Canada? Becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) in Ontario offers a fantastic opportunity for IENs to contribute to the healthcare system and pursue a rewarding profession. However, the registration process can be confusing and frustrating for many.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Ontario

This guide for IEN will provide you with all the information you need to understand this process and become an RN in Ontario so that you can start pursuing your dream job.

Also Read:

Prerequisites for RN Registration in Ontario

First, let’s explore the prerequisites to becoming a Registered Nurse(RN) in Ontario.

  1. Education Requirements: To qualify, you must possess a Nursing Degree or Diploma from an accredited college or university in your country. Both B.Sc and General Nursing Diploma holders can apply to become an RN in Ontario. 
  2. Registration Requirements in Home Country: You should have a valid registration with your Nursing Board in the country where you completed your Nursing Program. If you are currently working or worked, ensure you have held a valid license throughout your years of practice.

How to Become a Registered Nurse in Ontario: A Complete Guide for IENs

Now let us go with the step-by-step guide on how to become an RN in Ontario, Canada.

Step 1: Apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)

As an internationally educated nurse, your very first step is to apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS). NNAS evaluates your nursing education, work experience, and competencies against Canadian standards.

Create an online account on NNAS Portal and complete the application form carefully, avoiding errors. Misinformation or error can delay the processing of your application. Once you have completed the NNAS online application form, make the payment and download the forms to be submitted to your:

  1. Nursing School
  2. Nursing Board (where you studied)
  3. All Hospitals (where you work or worked)
  4. Nursing Boards (if you have worked in a different jurisdiction)

Each institution must complete its part and send it directly to the NNAS by courier or mail. Please be noted that the forms must be sent by the institution, not the applicant.

Once all documents have been sent and verified, the NNAS will issue an advisory report by evaluating your credentials. Your NNAS Stage/Step 1 is complete when you receive the advisory report.

Step 2: Apply to The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)

After obtaining the NNAS Advisory Report, apply to the CNO, the regulatory body for Nurses in Ontario. To apply, log in to the NNAS Dashboard and click “Apply to this RB.”

NNAS Dashbaord

A few days after submitting your application, CNO will send a detailed report based on their evaluation and the NNAS Advisory report. The CNO may ask you to complete courses or take the OSCE (Objective Structured Clinical Examination) to bridge the gap between your educational and Ontario standards.

However, if you have passed the USA NCLEX-RN Exam after April 1, 2013, you can transfer your results to the CNO. This strategy helps you meet your Registration Examination Requirement(NCLEX-RN) and the Educational Requirement, saving you time and money.

Step 3: Submit your Evidence of Language Proficiency to CNO

Proficiency in either English or French is crucial to practice nursing in Ontario. Take a CNO-approved language test such as IELTS, CELBAN, or TEF and meet the minimum criteria, or provide language proficiency evidence by submitting documentation of:

  1. Nursing education in any jurisdiction
  2. Health care or health care support education in Canada
  3. Nursing practice in any jurisdiction
  4. Health care or health care support experience in Canada

Note: You don’t need to submit proof of language proficiency during the NNAS stage.

CNO language proficiency Score Requirments

IELTS ScoresCELBAN ScoresTEF Scores
Speaking 78500
Source: CNO Accepted Language Proficiency Tests

Step 4: Submit Evidence of Practice to CNO

You can submit your nursing experience from your home country to CNO to meet the evidence of practice requirement. If you have more than 3 years of gap in experience, you’ll need to complete the SPEP (Supervised Practice Experience Partnership) program in a CNO-approved healthcare facility like a hospital or long-term care.

Alternatively, you can go back to your home country and work in your jurisdiction, where you are registered as a nurse, to meet this requirement. Since the SPEP program is paid, many IEN Nurses prefer it over going back to their native countries. Plus, you can fulfill your Language Proficiency requirement by participating in the SPEP program.

Also Read: Benefits of Supervised Practice Experience Partnership Program(SPEP)

Leading hospitals like London Health Science (LHSC), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, etc., offer SPEP programs. Once you’ve met all requirements except Evidence of Practice and Language, you can attend this program. After gaining eligibility, you can directly contact the HR Department of these hospitals or search job portals for SPEP opportunities.

Step 5: Complete the Jurisprudence Examination

The CNO Jurisprudence Examination is a mandatory requirement for all Nurses in Ontario seeking RN Registration. This exam assesses the candidate’s knowledge of the legal, ethical, and professional standards of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO).

The exam consists of multiple-choice questions about the nurse-client relationship, regulations, bylaws, standards of practice, position statements, and codes of ethics governing nursing in Ontario. The minimum passing grade for the Jurisprudence Exam is 75%. The jurisprudence examination has a one-time fee of $40 CDN, and you can attempt the exam multiple times if you fail to pass on your first try.

Step 6: Police Criminal Record Check

The Police Criminal Record Check is a crucial step in the RN registration process in Ontario. The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) requires a criminal background check to be completed via the My BackCheck app. The My BackCheck app is an online service that allows individuals to verify their criminal background, and it provides a secure and convenient way of completing the required police check. Make sure to enter the app via the My BackCheck app landing page for CNO.

When doing the online Canadian Criminal Record Check with Local Police, you will be asked to provide personal identification information, such as your banking and credit card details, etc., to verify your identity. So make sure you have these documents handy. Generally, it takes only 24 hours to complete this process, but it may take a few days to appear on your CNO Dashboard.

These are some of the major requirements out of nine to get eligibility for RN Registration in Ontario. Apart from these are other requirements like Character Conduct and Health: Declaration forms and Character Conduct and Health: Other Registration.

Once you’ve met all requirements, CNO will email you to pay the registration fee. After making the payment, you will become a Registered Nurse in Ontario. Congratulations! You are now an RN in Ontario! You can check your registration number and other details on the Find a Nurse Website. Please note that you will not receive any certificate or letter for your RN registration by post.

Becoming a Registered Nurse in Ontario has become easier and faster after the pandemic. Implementing the SPEP Programme and USA NCLEX-RN Eligibility has made the process more convenient for Internationally Educated Nurses. The increase in Ontario IEN RN registrations proves the process has become more streamlined. I hope this trend will continue and that more and more IENs will receive their RN registration in Ontario. But we don’t know when the rules will be changed and how difficult it will be. So, complete your RN registration process as soon as possible. Good luck with your journey!

Q1: How long does it take to become an RN in Ontario as an Internationally Educated Nurse (IEN)?

A1: The time takes an IEN to become an RN in Ontario varies depending on many circumstances. Depending on factors such as wait times for NNAS Advisory Report required courses and exam eligibility; it may take anywhere from a few months to over a year.

Q2: Can I work as a nurse in Ontario while I’m completing my RN registration requirements?

A2: Yes. A Temporary Nursing License in Ontario is an option for nurses, including internationally educated nurses (IENs), who are in the process of RN registration with the CNO. This temporary license allows them to work as a nurse under specific practice conditions while they complete the necessary steps to become fully registered in Ontario.

Q3: Can I use my USA NCLEX-RN exam results to fulfill Ontario’s educational requirements for RN registration?

A3: If you have passed the USA NCLEX-RN Exam after April 1, 2013, you can transfer your results to the CNO. This will meet not only your Registration Examination Requirement but also the Educational Requirement, eliminating the need to take any additional courses or the OSCE examination.

Q4: How do I find SPEP opportunities in Ontario?

A4: Once you are eligible for the SPEP program, you can directly contact the HR Department of hospitals offering SPEP programs, such as London Health Science (LHSC), Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON, etc. You can also search for SPEP opportunities on job portals like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.

Q5: How many attempts can I make to pass the Jurisprudence Examination?

A5: There is no limit on the number of attempts you can make to pass the Jurisprudence Examination. However, you must pay the one-time fee of $40 CDN for each attempt and achieve a minimum passing grade of 75%.

Q6: How can I check my RN registration status in Ontario?

A6: Once you have completed all the requirements and received your RN registration, you can verify your registration number and other details on the Find a Nurse Website.

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