Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide professional nursing services, deliver health education programs, and provide consultative nursing services to promote, maintain, and restore patient health.

RNs require a minimum of a four-year bachelor's degree in nursing, allowing for greater depth and breadth of foundational knowledge in the following areas: clinical practice, decision-making, critical thinking, leadership, research utilization and resource management.

RNs may choose to specialize and practice in specific clinical areas such as obstetrics, intensive care, and emergency medicine. RNs may also obtain advanced education to work in advanced practice nursing, which includes the role of nurse practitioners.

Nurse practitioners

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are registered nuresses (RNs) with enhanced knowledge and skills. They integrate elements such as diagnosing and treating health problems as well as prescribing drugs into their practice. Nurse practitioners can work autonomously or collaboratively, from initiating the care process to working with other health-care professionals such as physicians, pharmacists, other RNs, physical therapists, speech/language pathologists, and others.

NPs practice in a variety of community, acute care and long-term care settings. These include, community health centres, nursing outposts, specialty units and clinics, emergency departments, and long-term care facilities.

A small but growing number of Alberta's more than 30,000 RNs are registered on the CARNA roster as nurse practitioners.

NPs have a minimum education of a graduate degree in nursing (master's or PhD) and have enhanced knowledge and skills in health assessment, health promotion, and illness prevention. Because of this additional education, experience, and knowledge, nurse practitioners are able to provide enhanced nursing care in areas such as intensive care units, long term care, and primary care and perform restricted activities previously only performed by doctors.

NPs focus much of their practice on patient education, counselling, health maintenance, and disease prevention. As well, NPs can diagnose and treat certain health problems, order and interpret tests, and prescribe medications. NPs are able to provide primary care to residents of small or remote communities that do not have resident physicians, however, most NPs work in urban settings.

Working as a Registered Nurse in Alberta

Alberta offers registered nurses the chance to work independently or as members of a health care team. They have the opportunity to work directly with individuals, families and groups in a variety of exciting settings and scenarios.

Registered nurses work in a variety of settings and are employed by:

  • Alberta Health Services
  • clinics (medical, dental and community)
  • nursing homes
  • home care agencies
  • large corporations and insurance companies
  • government services (for example, penitentiaries, outpost nursing, the foreign service, the Canadian Armed Forces)
  • educational institutions
  • some nurses are self-employed

Want to know what it's like to work as a registered nurse in Alberta, from real people in real work situations? Watch the video on registered nursing from the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS):

If you would like more detailed information about working as a registered nurse such as duties, working conditions, salaries, educational requirements, and personal characteristics, you can read the various career profile for registered nursing on ALIS's occupational profiles website, OCCinfo.

You may also wish to review the occupational profiles in these other registered nursing occupations:

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Working as a Nurse Practitioner in Alberta

Alberta offers NPs the chance to work independently or as members of a health care team. They have the opportunity to work directly with individuals, families, and groups in a variety of exciting settings and scenarios.

Nurse Practitioners work in a variety of settings and are employed by:

  • Alberta Health Services
  • clinics (medical, dental and community)
  • nursing homes
  • home care agencies
  • large corporations and insurance companies
  • government services (for example, penitentiaries, outpost nursing, the foreign service, the Canadian Armed Forces)
  • educational institutions
  • small, rural and remote communities

For personal stories regarding working as a nurse practitioner, please visit the Canadian Nurses Association's Advanced Nursing Practice webpage.

If you would like more detailed information about working as an advanced practice nurse such as duties, working conditions, salaries, educational requirements and personal characteristics, you can read the career profile for nurse practitioners on Alberta's OCCinfo.

You may also wish to review the occupational profiles in these other nurse practitioner occupations:

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Registration and licensing

Nursing is a regulated profession in Canada and each province has its own regulatory bodies to ensure consistent standards of competency and nursing practice.

The College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA) is the regulatory body for registered nursing in the province of Alberta, Canada. All registered nurses need to be registered with CARNA and obtain a temporary permit, a temporary restricted permit or a full permit in order to practice as a registered nurse in Alberta.

To understand the steps for becoming accredited in Alberta, view the Registered Nurse Accredidation Process (PDF).

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Remuneration

Most staff nurses are unionized in Alberta and are among the best remunerated in Canada. Most RNs in Alberta belong to the United Nurses of Alberta (UNA), which negotiates the terms and conditions of employment including salaries and benefits on their members' behalf with public sector employers.

Alberta RNs are highly paid in Canada. According to latest collective agreement, starting April 1, 2009, the minimum rate of compensation for RNs is $29.59 per hour and the maximum rate is $43.30 per hour, depending on experience.

Nurse practitioners in Alberta are currently prohibited from belonging to a trade union. Therefore, nurse practitioners negotiate their own salaries, usually in accordance with management and exempt staff pay scales. The average annual salary for nurse practitioners ranges from $64,550 to $82,570.

Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, shift differential, benefits, profit shares, bonuses unrelated to production and other forms of compensation.

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Searching for a job

To look for a position as a Registered Nurse in Alberta, you can search using the Working in Alberta tool, or search through HealthJobs, Alberta Health Services' career website.

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Continuing education

Alberta has a variety of nursing programs, allowing nurses to practice as generalists or gain more education to become specialists in a particular field.

In Alberta, registered nurses require bachelor's degree in nursing. Registered nurses can also pursue further education in specialized bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and PhDs.

The following post-secondary institutions offer collaborative degree programs in nursing:

Nurse practitioners start their careers as RNs. In order to practice as an NP, RNs need to build upon their work experience and education with advanced programs in nursing (such as Masters degrees or PhDs); thereby enabling them work independently in assessing, diagnosing, providing intervention through prescribing medications, making referrals, and managing care in select settings.

In Alberta, the following post-secondary institutions offer master's and PhD programs in nursing:

  • Athabasca University offers a distance education program. Entrance requirements include a Canadian bachelor's degree in nursing or equivalent with a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 (based on a 4.0 system) in the final 30 credits, and at least two years of professional nursing experience. There are computer system requirements for this program.
  • University of Alberta's Faculty of Nursing in Edmonton. Entrance requirements include an average of at least 3.0 in the last 10 full course equivalents of a bachelor's degree program in nursing, or equivalent, undergraduate courses in statistics and research methods and at least one year of related clinical nursing experience.
  • University of Calgary. The entrance requirement is an average of at least 3.0 in the last two years of full-time study of a bachelor's degree program in nursing or equivalent, undergraduate courses in statistics and research methods, and at least three years of related clinical experience. The University of Calgary also has a Post-Master's Nurse Practitioner Diploma Program. Qualified applicants may be allowed to take the Master of Nursing/Nurse Practitioner Program concurrently.

For current information about programs, admission requirements, and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

There are also bridging or refresher programs for internationally educated nurses who are in Alberta. To find out about nursing refresher programs for internationally educated nurses, visit Alberta Health's employment page.

For more information regarding the various nursing programs of study and which institutions offer these programs, please visit Alberta Learning Information Service's post-secondary information website, EDinfo.

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Resources

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