Working as a Nurse

Learn more about what a nurse does, employment prospects in Ontario and the rewards of choosing a nursing career.

Nurse Job Description

Nursing is a great career for men and women with a caring nature. Nurses restore, maintain and advance the health of individuals, groups and entire communities. They provide direct nursing care, which may include working with physicians to perform examinations, delivering treatment as prescribed by a physician, and in some cases administer medications. Nurses often monitor and assess a patient’s condition and play a key role in a patient’s rehabilitation. Nurses also plan and deliver health programs for groups or communities.

Types of Nurses

In Ontario, there are registered practical nurses (RPNs), registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs). These categories reflect different levels of education and responsibility. Nurse practitioners have advanced training and may in some instances diagnose, order tests and prescribe certain medications.


Nurses can practise in a wide range of settings, which provides them with lots of flexibility in terms of work environment. Settings include: hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, long-term care facilities, schools, homes, poison control centres, rehabilitation centres, military bases, factories and the government.

Nursing Graduate Guarantee

The Nursing Graduate Guarantee is an initiative of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care aimed at ensuring that every new nursing graduate (RN and RPN) who wishes to work full time in Ontario will have that opportunity.

Job Prospects

Job prospects for nurses are excellent. Ontario is facing a nursing shortage because baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) are starting to retire, the population is aging, more services are being delivered to patients at home, in the community and there is increased emphasis on illness prevention. Nurses can find available positions by searching HFOJobs.


A nurse’s job provides many rewards, including:

  • Compensation: Nurses earn salaries that are comparable to other skilled professionals with a similar level of education.
  • Variety: Nurses can choose to pursue a variety of specialties to suit their interests, such as cardiac nursing, orthopaedic nursing, palliative care or oncology nursing.
  • Supporting Patients: Nurses support patients through direct care and help them cope with illness.
  • Critical Thinking: Nurses must use critical thinking to monitor a patient’s symptoms and progress.
  • Teaching: Nurses counsel their patients regarding treatment, educate communities about health maintenance and disease prevention, and teach other nurses.
  • Continuous Learning: New medical technologies and medications are always being developed so nurses engage in learning throughout their career.
  • Research: Nurses conduct research in all areas of nursing care.
  • Building Relationships: Nurses often have the most contact with patients and, therefore, build relationships with patients and their families. They also work closely with other members of the health care team.

Learn more about becoming a nurse