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A Guide On How to Get Into Nursing School in Canada

May 12, 2024

After graduating from high school, most know what courses they'll be taking. Among healthcare professionals, many want to be registered nurses and take the first step by getting into a college of nurses to study nursing. Invested in the field of nursing, students diligently submit admission requirements, fulfill course requirements, gain clinical experience through their internships or practicum, and eventually graduate from their degree program.

In this article, we will go through the steps on how to get into nursing school in Canada, including choosing and applying to a nursing school that will best support your career aspirations and getting to know the other requirements for Canada’s nursing program. We will also tackle everything that involves being a student and professional in the nursing field, including student fees, years of the program, student experience, course work, academic criteria, and clinical practice, as well as topics of health promotion, leadership roles in nursing, the different healthcare settings that need nurses, standards for professional nursing, and everything else that comes with the nursing course.

Steps for Getting Into Nursing School in Canada

Getting into nursing school, surviving it, and finishing it is undoubtedly no easy feat. The length of time one may spend in nursing school varies depending on the program and specialty you choose, in addition to other personal or financial issues that may occur along one's journey. Entry-to-practice, or the minimum average requirement to start practicing nursing, may be completed in as fast as two years for a certification or diploma or as long as four years for a nursing degree.

Some even opt to go to graduate school to further their education after they complete their first diploma or degree, extending their years of study to as long as seven years.

From minimum average to student experience to professional development, here are the steps—and some tips in between, like care for mental health or tips for student success—for you to get started in your nursing school journey:

A list summarizing the general steps in getting to nursing school in Canada.

Step 1: Get good grades

As set by the institutions, there are academic prerequisites that need to be met before you apply to nursing school. The first of these steps is to get a Grade 12 diploma with a high GPA in mathematics and science classes. Some institutions will have specific requirements for which math and science classes you need to have to apply.

Most programs require at least a C average in English, Math, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics; however, admissions in nursing schools in Canada are so competitive that more applicants are vying for limited seats, such that even a 94% average after graduation in high school might not be enough to make it a cut for admissions. You might find yourself competing for these limited slots against fellow Canadians and even international students.

However, have faith, and don't let this discourage you from becoming a professional nurse, especially if you're determined to make a positive difference in the lives of others, such as in terms of health equity and other healthcare advocacies. Many nursing schools work collaboratively to ensure that they can accommodate as many students as possible, and you can always try again next year if you weren't admitted to nursing school the first time you tried.

Step 2: Know what kind of degree to get

When considering a career in nursing, one must weigh the options of pursuing an ADN, BSN, or a nursing certificate program for their entry-to-practice nursing program. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) typically takes 2 to 3 years to complete and provides the basic skills and knowledge required for entry-level nursing positions. On the other hand, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a 4-year degree that offers a more comprehensive education, focusing on leadership, critical thinking, and research skills.

Many healthcare facilities prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses due to their advanced training and broader understanding of healthcare issues. However, certificate programs for practical nurses may still be a viable option for those looking to enter the nursing profession in a shorter time or learn the ropes first within the profession to decide whether it is for them or not before they decide to fully commit and have a nursing upgrade from RPN/LPN to RN where they can also opt for transfer credit and do additional course work.

Related: RPN Vs. RN - What Are The Differences?

Step 3: Find a good university

After secondary education, it's important to find the right nursing school. In Canada, there are countless research universities and institutions offering nursing programs. There are many universities in Canada that offer nursing programs, such as Fanshawe College in Ontario and the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, which means you are likely to find one in almost every province, and there may even be one close to you.

When you are considering what the right nursing school is for you, you will want to consider where you're living currently, the distance of travel to get to your school, where you would like to attend school, and most importantly, what nursing specialty you want to take.

Related: The Best Nursing Schools in Canada

Step 4: Set foot on campus

If you truly want to feel things out and get a taste of university life, you should visit the university and set up a time to talk with their admissions department. You may also sit in on a class or two, giving you a good basis for making the decision on which school you want to attend.

Nursing school may have a reputation for being notoriously difficult, but if you're willing and dedicated, then slowly, you can make it. You may check out our article for some tips on how to get through nursing school. Remember that while nursing school will be difficult and time-consuming, it will result in you having a very rewarding career.

Related: From Nursing Dreams To Nursing School With Mackenzie Ostrowski

Step 5: Take the Casper test

Nursing schools may require aspiring nursing students to complete the Casper Test, a situational judgment test (SJT) that evaluates applicants' soft skills, character traits, and social intelligence. This test must be accomplished either before applying or during the application process.

Some schools have direct links to the test in the application process, while others don't, which means you may need to take that test and have the results in hand before you start your application in those schools. Keep in mind that it can take up to, or more than, three weeks for Casper test results to come in, so this means you will want to start the application process early to accommodate any waiting times to receive your results.

Step 6: Accomplish requirements

Start the application process, pay the application fee, gather your documents, and submit your application to the nursing school(s) of your choice. Make sure you prepare the needed requirements like your official transcripts, including academic transcripts, English language proficiency test scores if you're part of the international community, some additional information on your personal characteristics like references for good morals, and other requirements which you may know by visiting the official website of the school or getting in touch with the admissions team.

Step 7: Look for funding opportunities and scholarships

On average, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree may cost nursing students $20,000 to $40,000 per year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to come up with. Thankfully, financial aid options are available to nursing students in the form of scholarships, grants, bursaries, and student loans.

One great example of scholarships and bursaries available for nursing students every year is that offered by the Canadian Nurses Foundation, which is made available to nursing students from those taking an undergraduate program to those pursuing further studies like master's and doctorate.

How Can High School Students Prepare for Nursing Admissions?

High school students aspiring to pursue a career in nursing in Canada can take several steps to prepare for nursing admissions. They should focus on achieving high grades in science and math subjects, as these are crucial for gaining admission to nursing programs. These students can also volunteer or work in healthcare settings to gain relevant experience and demonstrate their commitment to the field.

Meanwhile, joining extracurricular activities related to healthcare, such as clubs or organizations, can also showcase their passion for nursing. Researching different nursing programs in Canada and understanding their admission requirements will help students tailor their academic and extracurricular pursuits accordingly.

Finally, taking standardized tests like the SAT or ACT, along with any required provincial exams, may also be necessary for some nursing programs.

Find your ideal nursing job with Caring Support.

Land a Nursing Job with Caring Support

Caring Support offers a comprehensive and user-friendly interface for nursing professionals seeking job opportunities. With our extensive network of reputable healthcare facilities and organizations, we provide access to a wide range of nursing positions that cater to various specialties, experience levels, and career goals. Caring Support streamlines the job search process by allowing candidates to create personalized profiles, upload resumes, and receive notifications about relevant job openings.

Additionally, Caring Support offers valuable resources such as career development tools, industry insights, and networking opportunities to help nurses advance their careers and stay competitive in the ever-evolving healthcare landscape. By using Caring Support, nursing professionals can efficiently explore job options, connect with potential employers, and ultimately secure rewarding positions that align with their skills and aspirations. Create an account or log in if you already have one.

About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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