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Canada’s Best Jobs 2014: Registered Nurse

Serious talent shortage looms


Two nurses preparing bloodwork for a young patient (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star/Getty)

Median Salary: $72,800
Change in salary (2007–2013): +15%
Total employees: 270,000

Canadians are getting older, and that means the country will need more registered nurses. In fact, we could be short by nearly 60,000 full-time positions by 2022, according to the Canadian Nurses Association.

How to qualify: A registered nurse requires a bachelor of science in nursing, or a bachelor of nursing degree, which are typically four-year programs. A diploma in practical nursing can be obtained within two years through a college, but practical nurses are limited in terms of the patients they can work with. Upgrading to a nursing degree is possible through another two-year program.

Money: Someone just entering the profession can expect to make just under $60,000. Nurses with more experience can top $80,000.

Outlook: Two big trends are creating a greater demand for nurses. The country’s population is aging, meaning there will be more Canadians in need of care. By 2050, nearly one-third of the population will be over the age of 60. Seasoned nurses are also retiring.

What it’s like: The job can be hectic and unpredictable. “You’re constantly thinking, you’re constantly moving, so 12-hour days actually go by very fast,” says Sarah Meadows, a registered nurse in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. There is a heavy emotional component, too, which can be overwhelming. “Caring for myself so that I can continue to nurture and care for patients and families is really important,” she says. But assisting others makes the job worthwhile. “You form connections with people who would otherwise be strangers, and that can be very profound.”

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