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All About Nurse Practitioners in Canada

April 28, 2024

Nursing isn't a one-size-fits-all—it comes with many levels and specializations and requires advanced knowledge and skills related to patient care. Nurses who reach the highest level in the profession, which is achieved through postgraduate education and gaining more professional experience, become nurse practitioners or NPs. These professionals are required to take their competencies to a higher level and broaden their range of services, especially when it comes to health promotion and management of patients.

In this article, we will be going through the scopes of practice, specialty of practice, and the range of health services provided by nursing professionals like nursing practitioners. We will also discuss the work environment, demands, salary expectations, and more topics regarding nurse practitioners in Canada. Lastly, we will answer some FAQs on nurse practitioners and help you find out where to secure a job in nursing in Canada - specifically, what platform to use for both employees and employers who are looking for the perfect match for their requirements.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced practice registered nurses who have acquired additional education and training beyond that of a registered nurse. NPs are qualified to provide a wide range of healthcare services, including diagnosing and treating illnesses, prescribing medications, interpreting diagnostic tests, and educating patients on managing their health.

They also bridge the gap between primary care providers and specialty services by offering high-quality, cost-effective care to patients across the lifespan and work according to the standards set by the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA).

Nurse practitioners were designated in Canada in the 1960s as a strategy to bring more advanced care to rural and remote areas across the country, as stated by the CNA. During the following decade, the role had become increasingly popular, which resulted in the creation of new education programs exclusively dedicated to the role.

In recent years, and thanks to the advocacy work done by the same organization, nurse practitioners are now recognized as care providers in three key pieces of federal legislation and regulation, which means they have fewer barriers in terms of their practice and can provide a wider range of services.

With their comprehensive knowledge and expertise in both clinical practice and patient education, nurse practitioners serve as essential members of the healthcare team, contributing significantly to improving access to quality healthcare for both individuals and communities.

A nurse practitioner taking her patient's blood pressure measurement.

How to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Canada

To become a nurse practitioner, nursing students must first complete the educational requirements to practice as registered nurses and then move on to post-graduate work, which usually includes intensive medical training and can also involve an internship or residency.

Of course, choosing where to pursue postgraduate studies to become a nurse practitioner is important for success in this career.

To choose the best nurse practitioner programs in Canada, you should do diligent research and make sure to enrol only in those that have been reviewed and approved by the regulatory body of the province or territory, such as the College of Nurses of Ontario for those in Ontario. These organizations review each new program's curriculum on an annual basis, prior to admitting students, making sure they meet the highest standards and that nurses will receive the best education and training.

You may also ask nurses within your network for their feedback regarding the post-secondary institutions that offer post-graduate nursing degrees.

Upon completing your postgraduate degree, you need to register with the regulatory body of the province or territory where you'll be practicing. This registration process will involve writing the nurse practitioner exam approved by the college’s council for the NP specialty in which each nurse is applying to practice.

Typically, aspiring nurse practitioners have three chances to successfully complete the NP exam of their choosing. If they are not successful, their application will be reviewed by the college's registration committee to determine if there were any extenuating circumstances that would justify annulling the results of one or more of the candidate's unsuccessful attempts and allowing them to try again.

Where Do Nurse Practitioners Work?

Like any other nurse, nurse practitioners can work in diverse healthcare settings such as hospitals, long-term care homes, community healthcare centres, and home care agencies. However, due to their more advanced education and training, nurse practitioners are also allowed to hold leadership positions and have a more extensive scope of practice than RNs do. They can perform other procedures with minimal supervision of a physician, including prescribing medicines. They can also be in front of their own clinics, called Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinics (NPLCs), where they usually lead a group of nurses and health professionals to offer healthcare services to patients, helping improve the accessibility of primary and acute care.

Related: Comparing Nurse Practitioner vs Doctor

Related: Nurse Practitioner vs Registered Nurse: Key Distinctions

Types of Nurse Practitioner Specializations in Canada

A list summarizing the types of nurse practitioner specializations in Canada.

There are several types of nurse practitioners, depending on the specialty of care they choose. The specialties that are currently available for nurse practitioners in Ontario and most provinces in Canada are the following:

1) Adult Care NP

These NPs work specifically with adults suffering from acute, chronic, or critical care issues. They work closely with physicians, specialists, and other healthcare providers to develop treatment plans that address the unique needs of individual patients. They can also perform physical exams, order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, and provide patient education on health maintenance and disease prevention.

2) Paedriatics NP

These NPs treat children 0 to 18 years who have acute or complex health problems. They conduct thorough assessments, order diagnostic tests, develop treatment plans, prescribe medications, and provide health education and support to children and their families. With their expertise in pediatric health and wellness, they play a crucial role in promoting preventive care, managing acute illnesses and chronic conditions, monitoring growth and development milestones, and advocating for the overall well-being of children.

3) Primary Health Care NP

These NPs provide healthcare services to patients of all ages and their families in a variety of primary care settings. They possess advanced training in both nursing and medical sciences, allowing them to diagnose and treat a wide range of acute and chronic conditions. In addition to managing routine health concerns, primary care nurse practitioners also emphasize prevention, health promotion, and wellness strategies to help patients maintain optimal health. They also work collaboratively with other healthcare providers to ensure a holistic approach to care and may also coordinate referrals to specialists when necessary.

Nurse Practitioner Duties and Responsibilities

Some of the most common duties and responsibilities of nurse practitioners include conducting complete physical evaluations on patients, monitoring the effectiveness of prescribed medication and treatments, recording patients’ medical history and updating their records, as well as managing the work of other nurses such as RPNs, and RNs.

Furthermore, NPs work often focuses on the overall wellness of their patients, which is why they are known by patients for suggesting diet changes, increased exercise, and the interruption of bad habits such as smoking or frequent consumption of alcohol.

As experienced healthcare professionals, nurse practitioners can also act as educators and researchers who can be consulted by other healthcare workers about the treatment and management of chronic illnesses, the medical history of patients under their care, and other aspects related to patients' physical and mental health.

Nurse Practitioner Job Salary

Regarding their income, the median nurse practitioner's salary in Canada is $54 per hour or close to $100,000 per year. And as it happens in other areas, NPs with more nursing experience and in higher positions often make more—and the salaries also vary depending on location.

Land your ideal nurse practitioner job with Caring Support.

Find Your Dream Job Today at Caring Support

Caring Support is the ideal choice for both job seekers and employers in the healthcare industry. With our extensive network of top hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities, we offer a wide range of career opportunities for candidates seeking employment in this rapidly growing field. Caring Support streamlines the job search process by connecting qualified candidates with reputable employers, ensuring a seamless and efficient recruitment experience for all parties involved.

Through our comprehensive platform, we also help provide valuable resources such as resume-building tools, interview preparation tips, and career development seminars to support the professional growth of our users. Trust in Caring Support to connect you with quality healthcare opportunities that align with your unique skills and career goals. Choose us for a reliable and comprehensive healthcare employment solution that sets you up for long-term success in the industry.

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About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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