Careers in Canada

RPN, RN, NP: Differentiating the Types of Licensed Nurses in Canada

Do you know the difference between RN, RPN, and NP?

Those are professional designations representing the three types of licensed nurses in Ontario, Canada.

If you are planning to become a nurse here in Ontario, you must familiarize yourself with each of these nursing careers’ roles and scope of practice.

Nursing is a profession that offers many choices in terms of career. Though it has its own share of challenges, the flexibility that nursing offers can be rewarding in its own right. It is also a career that investing in further education rewards you with career and income growth.

I’ll be discussing the three nursing roles that are constantly in demand in Canada. These are Registered Practical Nurse (RPN), Registered Nurse (RN), and Nurse Practitioner (NP).

Registered Practical Nurses

Becoming an RPN can be something you can consider if you’re looking to build a nursing career in the shortest amount of time. In Canada, the educational prerequisite can be completed in 2 years in an accredited College. Notably, RPNs working in Ontario have more legal responsibility compared to other Canadian provinces.

The RPNs scope of practice involves administering general healthcare to people of any age. They usually work with patients who have stable, non-life-threatening, and predictable medical conditions. On the other hand, RPNs can only practice healthcare under the supervision of another licensed healthcare provider with a higher education level, such as Registered Nurses, Licensed Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, etc.

RPNs can work in many healthcare settings. This can include but is not limited to hospitals, schools, community health centers, and clinics. They can also expand their scope of practice by taking additional certifications such as Psychiatric Care, Pre-Natal Care, Operating Room Nursing, Gerontological Care, and Health Management.

An RPN’s salary can be considered competitive, considering that its entry-level education only requires 2 years. On average, RPNs earn an average of $78,546 a year. Depending on your experience level and the province you’re working in, the annual salary can range from $46,952 to $91,679. Notably, RPNs working in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia have higher salaries than those in Ontario.

Related article:

A Guide for Foreign Nurses to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada

Registered Nurses

Compared to RPNs, RNs must complete a 4-year baccalaureate degree in nursing from a recognized Canadian university. This on top of being able to pass the licensure and jurisprudence exam.

Having more in-depth knowledge in terms of healthcare allows RNs to address more complicated health issues. They are also given more options on where to practice or whether they wish to select a particular nursing specialty. Some common RN specialties include, but are not limited to, emergency, community health, neonatal, psychiatric, pediatrics, oncology, and occupational health, just to name a few.

The salary of an RN working in Canada averages with $80,126 a year. Depending on various factors such as specialties, experience, and the province where you are working, the annual salary for RNs can range between $41,396 to $94,332 a year.

Nurse Practitioners

If you are someone who’s comfortable working independently, becoming a Nurse Practitioner is something worth considering. Depending on the region you are working in, NP duties may require minimal to no physician supervision. Of course, this additional working independence comes with a heightened responsibility. Hence, it requires more educational prerequisites than those of an RPN or an RN.

Aspiring NPs need to start by completing a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing and meet the provincial licensure exam. Once you’ve completed the prerequisites to become a Registered Nurse, the next step is to complete a program under the Ontario Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner (PHCNP) from a university approved by the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing (COUPN). For NPs who did not graduate under the PHCNP program, you can submit your educational credential for review and approval under the COUPN’s accrediting committee.

NPs’ duties go beyond an RN’s scope of care to perform tasks that usually need approval and supervision from a physician. These tasks include, and are not limited to, diagnosing complex health issues, prescribing medications, treatment of fractures and dislocations, etc.

An NP’s salary in Canada averages around $108,105 a year. Depending on experience, the region an NP is working in, and specialties, an NP’s salary can range between $45,498 to $125,229 a year. Although becoming a licensed NP can take up more time, both the NP’s competitive salary and degree of freedom while working makes it worthwhile.

RPN, RN and NP are the 3 Different Types of Licensed Nurses in Canada

The need for healthcare is constant and will always remain relevant. The global need for nursing roles guarantees a steady supply of jobs and government-initiated assistance for people who wish to take on this profession.

We can also expect a rise in the need for more nursing jobs due to the aging baby boomer populace. These make nursing a good career choice for anyone considering a health-related job.

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  1. Actually in Ontario, RPN is registered practical nurse talaga. Tama din si author ng article, pero kung saang province ka man maaaring tama ka din. So hindi wrong ang article if you actually read it.


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