Career Insights with Sam and Rachel- Become a Nurse/Travel Nurse in Canada and Australia

The hospital is not a place you would want to be for any reason but when you have nice nurses attend to you, it makes a whole lot of difference.

The Nursing profession isn’t really for everyone. You definitely need to have a very high level of empathy, skill, respect and genuine care for others.

Overview of Canadian Nursing profession

As with most professions in Canada, the nursing profession is regulated by respective provinces,  with different albeit similar regulations. You need to familiarize yourself with regulations of the province you want to practise.

Canada recognizes three (3) major types of nurses, the Registered Nurse (RN) and the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) (Also known as the Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario. The less common type of nurse is the Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN), mainly because it is only available in just four provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Saskatchewan).

The education required for the different types of nurses differ slightly.  This also varies a bit in the different provinces most especially in Quebec, the province with most french speaking residents.

Nurses are well compensated and respected in Canada and it is considered a prestigious profession. It is also great to note that it is a very high demanded profession most especially in the colder northern provinces/territories where you are most likely to get a job as a nurse.

“I had the opportunity to connect with two respected Registered Nurses, Sam and Rachel. They happen to have taken up the travel nursing path and are oh! living their dream. Imagine doing what you love and travelling the world as well, bliss!”

Meet Rachel

My name is Rachel Sullivan, I am a registered nurse, I grew up in Windsor, Ontario, Canada and also lived in Ottawa Ontario for about 6 years. I currently live in Queensland, Australia and have been living and travelling here for about two years.

I am also an American citizen, since my Mom is American. So I do have aspirations to go nurse in the US as some point in my career as well. I love that nursing is such a compassionate career. I feel like I am making a difference in people’s lives when I go to work. There is also such a variety of work opportunities with nursing and I love that it provides so many chances to travel and see the world.

Meet Sam

I am Sam Martin, I am from southern New South Wales, Australia and I have been travel nursing for two years. I love nursing because I get paid to help people, it supplements my lifestyle and at the same time I am helping people. It’s a continually growing environment and I’m always learning in my job.

Travel nurse
The travelling nurse in his scrubs
“If you would like to know more about the Nursing profession in Canada and Australia, keep reading.”

They explain the different types of nurses in Canada and Australia

There are two different types of Nurses in Canada RN (registered nurse) and RPN (registered practical nurse) in Australia RPNs are called EN (enrolled nurses). To become an RPN only requires three years in Canada and two in Australia and involves less theory study than becoming an RN.

This means a RN has a wider scope of practice than an RPN/EN. RPN’s/EN’s are not able to perform as many delegated tasks as an RN, and cannot administer all of the same medication as an RN or care of as complex/ acutely ill patients as an RN. RPN’s/EN’s are still a necessary and appreciated role in our healthcare system in Canada.

“The Nursing profession requires some level of education and training to enable you practise.”

Rachel shares a typical path to becoming Nurses in Canada and Australia

I attended The University of Ottawa for my Bachelor of Science in Nursing. To become an RN in Canada you must complete the BScN program at a university or college. Programs may differ slightly from province to province, but mine was 4 years long.

The first year was mainly health science classes like anatomy and physiology, or pharmacology, and the remaining three years included theory classes with corresponding labs and clinical portions in the hospital where you could put the theory into practice.

Once you complete your BScN you must sit the boards exam, which is now called NCLEX and with a pass score you can become registered in your province to practice nursing.

In Australia you must attend an accredited university program, same as Canada, however nursing programs are only three years in Australia. In Australia there are no boards exam, you just apply for your AHPRA nursing registration afterwards.

Your university helps you with this process in both Canada and Australia.

Nurse Canada

“If you’ve been to a hospital or clinic, you can attest that nurses are always busy. Thinking of becoming a nurse, keep reading to know what a day feels like.”

Typical day for Nurses in Canada vs Australia

Generally nursing is the same in both Canada and Australia. It really depends on where you are working, nursing can look very different if you are working in a hospital, a community or an office. 

A typical day in a hospital can also vary dramatically depending on what specialty you are working in.

Hospital nursing typically means hands on caring for patients which includes tasks: like assessing your patient and monitoring for changes, administering medications, performing delegated tasks (like inserting a urinary catheter or changing a dressing).

It could also involve assisting your patient with self care (cleaning or eating), collaborating with other interdisciplinary members (doctors, physiotherapist, dieticians, respiratory therapist etc.).

“For those wondering if you need additional qualifications to practise as a nurse, here’s what they have to say.”

Required qualifications and certifications to practise Nursing in Canada or Australia

You can work as an RN in Canada and Australia with only your BScN and license to practice. There are opportunities to specialize in certain areas such as critical care, wound care, diabetes etc. as post grad education if you like.

There are also programs available to get your Masters or PhD in nursing and/or become a Nurse Practitioner.

“Foreign trained Nurses, get in here for some advice”

Advice for internationally trained nurses

If you are coming from another country and want to study to become a nurse in Canada it is the same process as described above.

If you are trained as a nurse internationally you will have to contact the nursing licensure body of whatever province you want to work in and find out if your training is equivalent to that in Canada.

Even if your training is adequate you also need to complete the NCLEX and with a passing score you can apply for registration in that province.

In Australia if you want to work as an internationally trained nurse we have a blog post where we discuss exactly how it’s done:  

Basically, if you are thinking of working internationally as a nurse you will always need a nursing registration in that country, a valid working visa, and a job.

It depends on what your training is, what country you are travelling to and from how easy or difficult this will be. If any of your readers have specific questions about this they can contact us.

Searching for nursing jobs in Canada? This is a good place to start. 

This career series has made me appreciate the work a lot of people put into providing career information. Sam and Racheal do an excellent job on their platform, Go Anywhere Nursing.”
“If you want to know more about it, keep reading.”

What Go Anywhere Nursing is all about

We created a blog called Go Anywhere Nursing where we share our stories and travels as travel nurses. We hope to inspire other nurses to travel and facilitate their transition into the travel nursing world. It’s also a platform for us to share our travel experiences.

We are taking some time off work to travel over the holidays. When we return to Australia we have a massive trip planned. We will be travelling the whole country in a motor home, exploring the country and picking up nursing contracts along the way. Check out our blog or follow us on Instagram to follow our Australia Trip!

We were both drawn into travel nursing because we enjoy the spontaneity of the lifestyle and both love to travel.

Basically travel nursing is working as a nurse on a casual basis in more than one hospital/town/or even country. We discuss it in a bit more detail in this blog:

The main things to consider when travel nursing is getting your nursing wherever you are planning on working, getting a visa to work (if you are travelling to a new country) and finding a nursing agency who will find you work.

We discuss nursing agencies in Australia in this blog post

“If you are in a serious relationship or even married, you may be wondering what it entails if you decide to become a travel nurse”

Heres what Sam and Rachel have to say about it

We are a couple! Travel nursing is definitely a tricky profession when it comes to relationships. It is very helpful having a partner who is in the same profession and especially who you are able to travel with. Travel nursing could other wise be very taxing on a relationship.

“Who wouldn’t want a profession you love and travel while at it. Well, there’s also the other side to it.”

The Pros and Cons of travel nursing

Travel nursing does come with some pros and cons just like any career. It can be challenging as an agency nurse because you are not always guaranteed work, although we have never been short of work and always been able to find work in a place we want to work, as a casual employee there is no guarantee.

It can also be difficult having such a transient lifestyle and sometimes missing the comforts of home. However this also means that if its excitement and adventure you are looking for in life, travel nursing will give that to you!

It’s a great way to see the world and if you ever wish to settle for a little you can usually extend your contract and stay in one place longer.

A huge perk to travel nursing are the pay rates, its no secret that agency nurses get paid a much higher hourly rate than staff nurses and also often get their travel and accommodation paid for.

With casual work this means we often spend only about 6-8 months of the year actually working and the rest travelling and we are able to afford it.

Our biggest advice is if you are thinking about trying travel nursing is to stop hesitating and just do it! Sure it’s scary and there’s hundreds of reasons you could talk yourself out of it, but we bet there’s even more reasons we could talk you into doing it!

You never know what life holds for you or what you will learn about yourself until you step out of your comfort zone and try something new!

“Finally, there is a whole lot of information that can not go into one post, so if you would like to know more about this, please leave a comment or reach out. If you need more information on nursing in Canada, the Canadian Nursing Association is a great place to start”

Be sure to subscribe  and connect with Sam and Rachel  if you are interested in the Nursing profession in Canada and Australia especially travel nursing. They have a webinar coming up on Nursing in Australia,  sign up to get first hand information.

Connect on our instagram , facebook and twitter  and subscribe to get informed on more career insights posts coming up. We will be sharing on different career paths so do not miss out!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *