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Continuing Education and Nursing: How to Make it Happen


Continuing Education and Nursing: How to Make it Happen

We saw in our last blog post that there are many reasons for nurses to go back to school, to pursue additional education. In this post, we will look through some concrete ways to make it happen.

It can be intimidating to return to school, if you have not completed formal education for some time. However, there are many supports available for nurses.

The fall is the time to begin looking at programs. There are a host of options available for nurses, whether it is at the BScN, masters, or PhD level. There are also many opportunities to take advanced courses in gerontology, palliative care, critical care, and many other specialties. This is the time to be investigating your options, and comparing different programs. It is important to ask, if the program has a clinical component, if you will be able to complete this at your facility. At TOH, contact Nursing Education for more information.

The deadline for many program applications is late fall or winter, depending on your program of interest. It is important to prepare well in advance, as there are often many pieces of information that need to be submitted.

One of the biggest concerns for students is cost. Fortunately, there are many resources available to support nurses. December-March is the main time for completing scholarship applications. Be sure that you have an up-dated CV, and contacts available to provide a reference. Some of the options for funding include:


  • Ontario Graduate Scholarships – For students pursuing graduate studies in Ontario. Grants are up to $5,000 per term. See their website for more information.
  • RNAO / RPNAO Nursing Education Initiative – There is $1,500 available annually for each nurse to support continuing education in nursing. Funding is not guaranteed, but is likely available to support your studies. You need to submit a transcript and receipt AFTER you complete your course to be reimbursed.
  • Canadian Nurses Foundation – The CNF funds annual scholarships from $1,000-$5,000 for all levels of RN education. See their website for more details.
  • Registered Nurses’ Foundation of Ontario – Funds various bursaries for nurses in Ontario. See their website to learn more.
  • The Ottawa Hospital Nursing Education Tuition Assistance Program – This is available three times per year (approximately one month after each semester end). You need to apply with a receipt and a transcript, before the deadline. For full details, please see the Nursing Education page on myHospital.
  • The Ottawa Hospital Nursing Education Bursaries – Awarded once a year, these bursaries provide significant funding for nurses who are students. The award deadline is in April each year. Please see the Nursing Education page on myHospital for more information.
  • The Canadian Nursing Students’ Association – There are various scholarships available for nurses in BScN or BN programs.
  • There are also loans available through RNAO (for members) and Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP). Most funding is available as a reimbursement; these loans can help you pay up-front for courses. See:
  • It is also important to check any specialty groups you belong to, as most groups (such as the Canadian Association of Critical Care Nurses) fund scholarships for members. See:
  • It is also important to consider taxation of these funds. Any award that is called “scholarship” is tax-free. Any funds that are called award, bursary, grant, fund or other terms are considered taxable income, and you will receive a T4 for the money.
  • There are also indirect ways that nurses can receive funding. There are a host of student discounts available for everything from transportation to groceries. There are also tax credits for various factors, including tuition and textbooks.

As the adage goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” There are many options to fund continuing education. If you are interested, go for it!


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This website gives you common facts, advice and tips. Some of it may not apply to you. Please talk to your doctor, nurse or other health-care team member to see if this information will work for you. They can also answer your questions and concerns.