Registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) provide nursing care to patients, clients and those in long-term care.
Watch the video below to see what a day in the life of a registered nurse is like.
Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Note:Estimated median employment income based on 2021 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))
Source: 2021 Job Bank Wage Report
Source: B.C. Labour Market Outlook
10 year expected job openings: 20,140
In general, registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs):
Some RNs and RPNs assist in surgeries and other procedures. They may also help in planning for patient release. In addition, they may supervise or mentor other nursing staff, students or new employees.
Specific types of nurses have additional duties:
Registered psychiatric nurses care for people with mental health and addiction issues.
Registered psychiatric nurses in hospitals can specialize in forensic psychiatry, emergency mental health, crisis stabilization, eating disorders, child and youth mental health, addictions and withdrawal management, developmental disabilities, mental health for the elderly, or for women who are pregnant or have recently given birth.
Registered nurses in hospitals can specialize in surgery, critical care, maternity, pediatrics, geriatrics, psychiatry or emergency room care.
Long-term care nurses develop care plans and manage and direct nursing care for patients in long-term care.
Community health nurses travel to schools, businesses, community health centres, patients’ homes and other sites to provide direct care. In addition, they work on illness prevention and health education, and support individuals, families and community groups.
Agency nurses in private agencies often work directly for families on a contract basis. They may also work for nursing or temporary help agencies that assign them to patients or work locations.
Outpatient clinic and outpatient office nurses work with doctors in doctors’ offices, clinics and emergency medical centres. They do initial assessments, routine lab tests, exams and paperwork. They also give injections and medications, dress wounds and incisions, and help with minor surgery. RPNs who work in outpatient clinics and offices help patients with mental health and addiction issues.
Occupational health nurses care for minor injuries and illnesses at worksites. They also provide emergency care, prepare accident reports and arrange for further care as needed. In addition, they offer health counselling, perform exams, give vaccines and work on accident-prevention programs. RPNs in this position focus on job-related mental health.
Nursing consultants work as independent advisors to organizations. They may also develop education programs.
Nursing researchers may be self-employed, or they may work for hospitals, public or private organizations, or government. Their research helps determine the best health outcomes for patients and shapes health policies.
Clinical nurse specialists and clinical resource nurses are experts in a specific field of nursing. They lead and advise nursing staff in dealing with patients needing special care. They work in a range of health-care settings including hospitals, clinics and acute care facilities.
Registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) can work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, clinics, people’s homes or the larger community. They may work on their own or as members of a health-care team. Some nurses are self-employed.
Hours and schedules depend on the workplace. Some nurses work eight- to 12-hour shifts; others have shorter workdays. Nurses usually work on rotation, including weekends, evenings, nights and holidays. Full-time nurses work an average of 37.5 hours each week. Others work part time or in casual positions without set hours, filling in as needed.
Nurses use equipment to lift patients. They follow safety procedures to reduce their risk of injury and illness. In addition, they must cope with the emotional aspects of working with the sick, injured and terminally ill, as well as with patients’ families.
Nurses must continue to learn and adapt to changes that affect their work. These can include the rise of new diseases and the legalization of certain drugs. Technology is also changing the way nurses do their job. Increasingly, nurses work remotely, providing tele-health. Documentation methods have also advanced.
New technologies and policies–such as the increase in day surgeries and shorter hospital stays–can mean a heavier workload for nurses.
Nurses need to be able to multi-task and handle stress well in a complex and fast-paced environment.
Source: 2016 Census
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses must:
To specialize, nurses may need additional experience or schooling. Increasingly, nursing students, especially in the Lower Mainland, take specialty courses while doing their undergraduate programs. This gives them an advantage when seeking their first job. The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) offers a voluntary certification program that allows registered nurses to write a national exam in one of 22 areas of specialization.
Clinical nurse specialists and nurse managers must have a master’s degree in nursing, or equivalent experience and education. Nursing professors and nursing researchers need a doctoral degree.
Registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses who are certified for that occupation by a regulator elsewhere in Canada can apply for the same certification from the regulator in B.C. Under the terms of the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), most applicants who are transferring their credentials from elsewhere in Canada will not be required to complete additional training or testing. However, the B.C. regulator may ask applicants to provide further information such as a letter of good standing, references, or criminal record check.
For those who trained outside of Canada and never received certification from any Canadian jurisdiction, a full assessment is likely needed. Most occupational regulators have a process for assessment and recognize internationally trained applicants.
Contact the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) for details on how to apply for certification in B.C.
For information about labour mobility in Canada, visit www.workersmobility.ca.
View a list of B.C. occupational regulators.
For more information about programs offered specifically for this career, visit EducationPlannerBC.
Every job calls for a certain set of skills. Knowing those skills is the first step in finding a good career fit.
Here, you will find the 35 most relevant workplace skills. Some are more important to achieving success in a certain career than others. These skills may come naturally to you or you may need to gain them through education, training and experience.
See the list of work-related skills below, ranked in order of importance for this career. You’ll also find the skill strength needed, letting you know how capable you must be in that skill.
Check out the list and see if this career matches your skills—take that first step!
As the population grows and ages, the demand for nurses is rising in B.C. Canadian credentials for registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) are also accepted around the world.
The need for RNs and RPNs is high across the province, especially in the northern and rural regions. To help boost the supply of nurses, post-secondary institutions have opened more training spaces. In addition, the B.C. government will forgive the student loans of graduates who take jobs in regions with the greatest demand.
The demand is particularly strong in specialty areas, such as medical-surgical and mental health. This is especially true in the Mainland/Southwest region.
Registered nurses (RNs) usually begin their careers in entry-level positions in medical, surgical, maternity or geriatric units. Registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) usually start in entry-level positions in acute psychiatric units or on community mental health teams. They may also work in facilities that provide care to those who have not been successfully treated by other programs.
RNs with additional certification can specialize in areas such as emergency care, oncology, psychiatric care, critical care, pediatrics, geriatrics, palliative care, rehabilitation or occupational health. With experience and more education, RNs can become nurse educators, nurse managers, care co-ordinators, clinical nurse specialists or nurse practitioners.
RPNs with additional experience or education can specialize in forensic psychiatry, emergency mental health, crisis stabilization, eating disorders, child and youth mental health, withdrawal management or developmental disabilities.
RNs and RPNs with experience and additional courses may move on to supervisory and managerial positions. They often become team leaders or patient care co-ordinators. They may also progress to roles such as manager and clinical lead, program manager, nurse manager, director of care, dean of nursing, lead researcher, professional practice lead, or assistant, associate or professor of nursing.