Your Essential Checklist

May 24, 2024

What Canadian Registered Nurses Need to Do Before Starting a Job in the USA

Transitioning from Canada to the USA for a nursing career can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor. However, the process requires careful preparation and a clear understanding of the steps involved. At IntelliStaff Medical, we are dedicated to supporting Canadian registered nurses through this journey. Here’s a comprehensive checklist to help you prepare for your new role in the USA.

1. Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

  • Preparation: Enroll in an NCLEX-RN preparatory course to increase your chances of passing on your first attempt.
  • Exam Registration: Register for the NCLEX-RN exam through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
  • Exam Day: Successfully complete the exam to qualify for licensure in the USA.

2. Obtain State Licensure

  • State Requirements: Research the specific licensure requirements of the state where you intend to work.
  • Application Process: Submit your application to the state’s Board of Nursing, including all necessary documentation and fees.

3. Credential Evaluation

  • Educational Credentials: Use a recognized credential evaluation service to assess your nursing education against US standards.
  • CGFNS Certification: Some states may require you to obtain certification from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).

4. Secure a Work Visa

  • TN Visa: Apply for a TN visa under the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), which allows Canadian professionals to work in the USA.
  • VisaScreen Certificate:
    • The Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS is authorized to issue certifications to 7 health care occupations).
    • Josef Silny & Associates, Inc. (JSA is authorized to issue certifications for nurses).

5. Documentation Preparation

  • Passport: Ensure your Canadian passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay in the USA.
  • Job Offer: Secure a formal job offer letter from your prospective employer in the USA.
  • Educational Documents: Gather and organize your transcripts, degrees, and proof of nursing experience.

6. Plan Your Relocation

  • Housing: Research housing options near your workplace. Consider temporary housing provided by some employers. IntelliStaff Medical can help guide you make an informed decision.
  • Travel Arrangements: Plan your travel to the USA, including flights and transportation within the country. IntelliStaff Medical can help you with this step as well. We also offer free border coaching for our placed nurses.
  • Personal Belongings: Decide what to bring immediately and what can be shipped later.

7. Understand Healthcare Regulations

  • State Regulations: Familiarize yourself with the nursing regulations and practice standards in the state where you will be working.
  • Continuing Education: Identify any continuing education requirements to maintain your nursing license.

8. Financial Arrangements

  • Banking: Open a US bank account to manage your finances and receive your salary. Many Canadian banks have American branches.
  • Taxes: Understand the tax obligations and potential treaties between Canada and the USA, including how to file taxes in both countries.

9. Cultural and Professional Adjustment

  • Cultural Orientation: Prepare for cultural differences in both the workplace and daily life to ease your transition.
  • Professional Networks: Connect with other Canadian nurses working in the USA and join professional associations for support and networking opportunities. We even have a Facebook for Canadian Nurses where you can network.

10. Health and Well-being

  • Health Insurance: Ensure you have adequate health insurance coverage. Your employer may provide this, or you may need to arrange it yourself.
  • Self-Care: Moving to a new country can be stressful. Prioritize your mental and physical health and seek support when needed.

11. Legal Compliance

  • Adherence to Laws: Ensure you comply with all US laws and regulations, particularly those related to immigration and employment.
  • Employer Policies: Understand and follow your employer’s policies and procedures to ensure a smooth start in your new role.

Transitioning to a nursing career in the USA involves careful planning and adherence to various requirements. By following this checklist, you can navigate the process with confidence and ease. IntelliStaff Medical is here to support you every step of the way, ensuring you have a successful and fulfilling experience in your new role. Welcome to the next exciting chapter of your nursing career!


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