Know It All: Nursing In Canada And In The Philippines

1 year ago

Have a nursing background in the Philippines and want to know what it is like to be a nurse in Canada? This article will unpack the different aspects of practicing nursing in the Philippines and in Canada.

Nurses are one of the pillars of health care. The global pandemic highlighted the continuous sacrifices of nurses and other frontline workers who work tirelessly to save lives and provide care and support to patients. This crucial role of nurses, even before the pandemic, triggers the steady demand in this profession.

If you have a nursing background in the Philippines and are interested to know what it is like to be a nurse in Canada, read ahead and learn about the main differences of practicing nursing in the Philippines and in Canada.

Level of Education

The first step for aspiring nurses in the Philippines is to complete a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree which adheres to the curriculum requirements set by the country’s Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Nursing programs, regardless of the college or university, have practicum or clinical components usually in a partner or public hospital.

Similar to the Philippines, aspiring nurses in Canada typically complete a four-year post-secondary university nursing program. These programs also present both theoretical and clinical/practical components, ensuring graduates are job-ready to enter this challenging career. It is important to note that those who will pursue the Practical Nursing program can have a shorter study, as it generally requires a post-secondary two-year nursing program at a college level (diploma degree).


Upon graduating in the Philippines, students must take the Philippine Regulatory Commission’s (PRC) Nursing Licensure Exam before practicing. There are usually two exam intakes per year. A minimum total rating of 75%, with no subtest under 60%, is required to pass the exam and earn the license. Passers become Registered Nurses (RNs).

Meanwhile, in Canada, the nursing profession can be classified into three regulated groups: Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LP), or Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN). Licensing and regulations are specific to each province and territory unlike in the Philippines where there is a national regulatory body. It is important to plan ahead where you intend to settle to learn about the specific licensing process and requirements.


Nurses working in public hospitals, by law, should be earning a minimum of salary grade 15 which can range from 19,800 PHP to 30,500 PHP per month (500 CAD to 750 CAD) per month. However, these have not been enforced thoroughly as Filipino nurses earn approximately 30% less than what they are entitled to due to a shortage in the country’s health budget. For nurses working in private hospitals and clinics, entry-level salary can start at 8,000 PHP or 200 CAD.

In Canada, the lower-end or starting salary average for a registered nurse is 153,000 PHP or 3,845 CAD per month. Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut offer higher wages than other provinces and territories.

Work Hours and Environment

In our conducted interview with a former nurse from the Philippines, now based abroad, it was that mentioned the nurse-to-patients ratio is one of the main challenges working in the profession. Her experience was several years before COVID-19 happened; however, it was a grim reality then that persisted and was further magnified by the pandemic. Having understaffed health institutions led to overworked nurses, and cases of 12-hour shifts became common from the onset of the pandemic. Before the pandemic, our respondent mentioned that overtime was common where the typical workweek was between 41 to 50 hours.

Meanwhile, in Canada, statistics showed that nurses generally increased their overtime during the pandemic. From the May 2019 level of 46 hours per workweek, data showed weekly work of 50 hours in May 2020. Needless to say, COVID-19 was and still is a massive challenge to all countries regardless of economic status, resulting in health care workers needing to work longer hours.

Nursing remains to be one of the most popular degree programs and career paths for Filipino students. It is a demanding career, both physically and mentally, but is a respected and noble one. There are many challenges faced by Filipino nurses in the Philippines that prospects a better life abroad becomes a common narrative.

The Philippines is known to be the biggest exporter of nurses, with an estimated 10 million Filipino nurses working in various sectors abroad. Filipino nurses are resourceful, hardworking, and adapt easily to multi-cultural environments. Canada is one of the best places that Filipino nurses can go to work and eventually settle. One of the fastest ways to immigrate to Canada, especially if your Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) score is too low for Express Entry, is to do the Student-to-Permanent Resident (PR) pathway. For more information on requirements and processes, read our article "E-LEAD Resources: Student-to-Permanent Resident Pathway to Alberta Canada" and register for our webinar series happening on December 4, 9:00 AM Manila Time where we can help answer your study, work, and immigration-related questions.

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