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Psychiatric nurse

I was educated as a psychiatric nurse in another Canadian province. Now, I’d like to move to Ontario to practice nursing. Why doesn’t CNO recognize or regulate psychiatric nursing in Ontario?

Like many nursing regulators in Canada, CNO takes a generalist approach to the nursing education needed to practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). This ensures all Ontario nurses have the knowledge, skill and judgment to provide safe care to people of all genders and ages, in various practice settings, communities and populations. Once registered, Ontario nurses can decide to pursue a speciality, such as mental health or addiction. This is one of the ways we meet our mandate to protect the public.

In Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan psychiatric nursing is regulated as a separate profession. However, in these provinces, a psychiatric nursing program is recognized only for practice as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, not as an RN or RPN.

While CNO has no plans to regulate psychiatric nursing, if you are considering registering in Ontario, you have to complete a program that prepares you for practice as an RN or RPN. Here are a couple of options to consider:

  1. For baccalaureate nursing (RN) programs or practical nursing (PN) programs in Ontario, contact any school on our list of approved nursing programs. Ask them about their admission requirements and if they have a Prior Learning Assessment Recognition (PLAR) process.  PLAR may help you obtain advance standing for courses you have taken previously and/or your experience as a psychiatric nurse. Or, visit the website of one of the nursing regulatory bodies in another Canadian jurisdiction and select a nursing program from an approved or accredited school.
  2. There are some education programs designed specifically for Registered Psychiatric Nurses who want to become RNs or RPNs. For example, the University of Alberta has a bridging program for Psychiatric Nurses who wish to practice as RNs.  

For more information about the requirements to register in Ontario, visit Become a Nurse.

Page last reviewed September 06, 2019