How do I get my nurse or doctor’s license as an internationally educated professional?

The pathway to Canadian licensure for internationally educated health professionals (IEHPs) can be complex. If you were trained as a doctor (physician)or nurse in another country, this is what you’ll need to practice in Ontario. 

Nurses and physicians are regulated professionals, meaning you will need a license provided by one of the provincial regulators called “colleges.”

The college’s role is to ensure you have the training and language skills (in English or French) necessary to be successful in Canada. Before you get your license, they will also include exams to assess your clinical skills. 


Nurses in Ontario receive their licenses through the College of Nurses of Ontario. They provide licenses for both Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) (called “Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)" in all other provinces).

If you are a nurse moving to Canada, you can also apply for pre-arrival services through the PASS Program. The program prepares you to find work faster once you arrive.


All physicians in Ontario are licensed through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, they are generalists or specialists. 

Support with Navigating Ontario’s Licensure Process

The National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4) (funded by the government of Canada) was created to help you understand the colleges’ requirements and to help you navigate the transition. The network is free to join, and you will find helpful tools like:

  • A resources library 
  • Webinars 
  • An e-Learning Library 
  • Events 
  • A newsletter 
  • News 
  • Provincial supports 

You will also find visual pathways that provide an overview of the processes and links to other supports IEHPs you may find helpful. 

Health Force Ontario’sAccess Centre for IEHPs also offers support and tools for you to pursue licensure. Their free service includes webinar sessions to walk you through the process, along with toolkits to understand the steps in the process. They can provide specific information for nurses and physicians. 

Understanding the Canadian Context

In addition to having strong clinical skills, as an IEHP, you will also need to understand how the Canadian healthcare system differs from that in your own country. 

N4, in partnership with Saint Paul University, offers a free twelve-week online program to support IEHPs in gaining those non-clinical skills. The “Fostering Canadian Integration for Internationally Educated Health Professionals (IEHPs): From Learning to Action” program is offered twice a year, in English and French. The program includes topics such as: 

  • the Canadian public healthcare system 
  • ethics 
  • Canadian culture
  • Indigenous health 

Networking and Employment Readiness

Having a network of peers who have gone through immigration and the transition can be beneficial to your success. You’re not alone in your goal of working in healthcare in Ontario. You can reach out to others in the IEHP Conversation Café to share your progress and learn from their experiences. You can also find and share high-quality news and information. N4 moderates this private group to ensure it’s a welcoming environment. 

There are many sector-specific community organizations across Ontario that can help you prepare for employment. Settlement agencies have specialized employment programs to help you with communication skills and job-search support like interviewing, preparing a Canadian-style CV or resume, and networking sessions with industry experts and employers.

To find free support in your community, visit the Find Services Near Me section of Settlement.Org and choose “Find a Job” from the dropdown menu and the city you are in. 

When you understand the routes to licensure and tap into a support network, you’ll be in a great position to advocate for yourself and get working in the Ontario healthcare system. 

Presented by:
The National Newcomer Navigation Network (N4)

Last updated: July 5, 2024 4006586