Become a nurse. Better yet, become a Canadian nurse

The Canadian Nursing Students’ Association shines a spotlight on nursing education in Canada.

It is true that everyone, at some point in their lives, will require the services of a nurse. As a vital part of the healthcare system, nurses care for people when they are at their most vulnerable and even in times of great joy. With lives in their hands, nurses have a unique ability to support, inform, empower and engage the people entrusted to their care. Intellectually challenging, rewarding, flexible and diverse, the nursing profession offers a distinguished career.

Nurses provide holistic upstream (i.e. illness prevention and health promotion) and downstream (i.e. illness recovery and peaceful palliation) care to individuals, families and populations, and their actions are always supported by current, high quality research. Often dubbed a resource in the pursuit of health, nurses build trusting, therapeutic relationships with their clients and employ adept critical thinking skills to help their clients reach their health-related goals.

Become a nurse

“All in all, Canadian nursing education prepares nurses for a challenging, dynamic and personally rewarding career”

A nurse’s work is never dull. Throughout his or her career span, a nurse may participate in one of many areas of the vast array of healthcare settings. In Canada, nurses work in hospital departments such as medicine, surgery, intensive care, emergency, maternity, psychiatry, pediatrics, geriatrics and palliative. In the community, they can fill nursing roles in public health, military, outpost, home care, camp and street outreach settings, to name a few.

Nurses are committed to professional growth and lifelong learning; all Canadian nurses continually upgrade their education in current best practices, many obtain advanced accreditation for their area of nursing expertise and some nurses even pursue nursing education at the master’s level to become nurse practitioners, nurse educators, nurse researchers and nurse administrators. In all areas of practice, nurses participate in political advocacy to influence the policy that shapes the means by which quality healthcare is delivered in Canada and around the world.

Canadian nursing education involves supported clinical practice experience paired with in-class courses in clinical skills, nursing theory, ethics, research, pathophysiology, growth and development, psychology, sociology and much more. In short, curricula offered by all accredited Canadian nursing schools imparts the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to become a competent, professional nurse. Canadian nursing programmes enable students to develop their ability in the many roles that nurses fill, be it leader, team member, teacher or even advocate. By graduation, nursing students possess a firm foundation of technical, professional and humanistic competencies that enable them to enter the dynamic and challenging Canadian healthcare system with confidence.

Canada is the ideal study destination for aspiring nurses for many reasons. For one, Canadian nursing schools offer baccalaureate education, the level of education deemed necessary to prepare nurse for the challenges of current healthcare demands (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2004). Furthermore, Canadian nursing students hone their skills in diverse clinical practice settings famous for constructive inter- and intra-disciplinary collaboration (Henderson, 2006); this model of non-hierarchical teamwork fosters healthy work environments and improves patient outcomes.

Most importantly, Canadian nursing students learn and develop their professional competence within a healthcare system that operates by the Canada Health Act, Canada’s federal legislation that declares comprehensive, publicly funded healthcare a basic human right entitled to all Canadians, regardless of income or other differences. In this setting, nurses gain true appreciation that healthcare for everyone, not just the wealthy, improves the health of the entire population (Wilkinson & Marmot, 2003).

All in all, Canadian nursing education prepares nurses for a challenging, dynamic and personally rewarding career. These nursing graduates are prepared to not just survive, but thrive in today’s ever-changing healthcare system and provide high-quality care to people from all walks of life. At the profession’s very core, nurses are endowed the greatest responsibility and honour of all… touching lives!

Written by Colleen Wright-Loree
Director of Communications 2009-2010
Canadian Nursing Students’ Association (CNSA)