Question: So you want to come to Canada and work as a nurse?

Answer: You’ve made a great decision! As much as I wish we can stay in the Philippines and use our chosen profession to serve our country, the reality is that our future (and our children's future) is better in First World countries than in our own country.

What do you need to do to expedite the process?

1) First, fill out and send your application papers to the Canadian Embassy. Approval is based on a point system taking into consideration your profession, your work experience, your knowledge of the French language (if applying to Montreal or Quebec), and whether or not you have relatives who are Canadian citizens. If you already have a job offer, it increases your chances of approval.

2) You need to get your official documents ready. Send a letter of intent to the College of Nurses of Ontario if applying to Ontario. Pro tip: apply to rural areas instead of larger cities like Toronto. You can always move to the city later.

3) Request an Official Transcript of your school records to be sent directly to the College of Nurses. A copy sent by you will not be accepted.

4) Pro tip: Apply to be registered as a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). Many nursing applicants end up being asked to take additional courses and experience before approval, even if you passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

5) Apply to take the nursing registration with NCLEX (or Rex-PN for RPNs) and prepare for the exam. Join review classes, buy and use NCLEX Reviewers immediately. Do not be caught unprepared and risk not passing the exam! You ONLY HAVE THREE CHANCES to take and pass the exam before you’ll be asked to take refresher courses.

6) English proficiency is a requirement. Do not take the exam too soon as the result has an expiry date. Find out which English proficiency exam is accepted at your intended place of employment.

7) Prepare a list of references and get their approval.  

8) Pro tip: NETWORK!!! Connect with family and friends in Canada who can help you with your job search.

9) Keep working as a nurse in the Philippines. You will be required to be actively working as a nurse within the last three years prior to registration.

10) Pro tip: Volunteer. If you have to volunteer for bedside experience, do it!

Good luck! Till next time. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call me.

Estrella Cayaba-Mercurio, BSN, RN, MA, GNC, N SWOCC

Email Estrella with your questions about being a nurse in Canada at, or call (416) 316-9158