Canadian RN would love to work and live in CA or HI

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    Hi everyone,

    I am extremely new to 'allnurses' and would like to gain some insight as to which route I should pursue my nursing career. First off, I have 4 years medical/surgical experience as a LPN/LVN. I decided to transition to the BSN program after getting bumped from my regular full-time position. I have done my research and read through the BON website for the specific state I plan on taking my NCLEX and hopefully landing a permanent position. I am set to write the CRNE next month and soon after that I would like to take the NCLEX-RN.

    As a new graduate registered nurse, I am aware that a year or two of hospital experience as a RN is expected from me, and I feel that this is the best time to organize and plan ahead. I have school-age children and a husband, who is reluctant to make a move or leave his work. Being married for 14 years, we have decided to make some compromise. I am considering travel nursing next year to explore the way of living in the states, specifically California or Hawaii, where we have quite a few extended family members. A new change, exploring the technology, and earning a descent pay are all the factors I need to consider before deciding to settle. Also, I am basically sick of the cold and rainy weather we have here in Vancouver. I am willing to take the kids with me or they can stay with their dad and my parents, and these are sacrifices WE have talked about and are willing to make.

    I am also interested correctional nursing as I am emotionally, mentally, and physically strong, but my parents and husband are not supportive of that idea. All I hear is that "you are a female and that is not a suitable work environment for you and so on." Regardless of their opinions, I have not given up on the idea of correctional nursing.

    Any Canadian nurses with kids or any nurses in general who can provide me some suggestions as to whether my decision to work and live from Canada to the USA is realistic? It is basically starting all over again if I were to pursue this goal of mine, or am I being selfish and putting my family in jeopardy? The only thing that my husband and I seem to agree on is wanting to live in a warm and sunny place like California or Hawaii. I would like to start my nursing career next year in Washington State since it is closer to home and the drive to the border is an hour and half a way. I would then have to endorse my license (and meet specific BON state's criteria) in order to work in California or Hawaii.

    I hope to hear from fellow nurses who was in my situation and decided to pursue their nursing career in the states. What was your experience like? Any regrets?
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  4. 8 Comments so far...

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    This will only touch on specific parts of your post, but as someone who lives in northern CA, just wanted to give you a little input.
    The San Francisco Bay Area has one of the toughest job markets in the US right now.
    The weather along the coast in NorCal is very similar to Vancouver, but if you inland, you can get away from that.
    Where in CA is your family? Do you plan to live near them?
    Housing prices and pay rates vary widely, so be sure to research the specific area to which you're considering moving. Fresno will vary greatly from San Francisco.
    Whatever you decide to do, good luck!
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    I appreciate your comment RunBabyRun!
    No offence, but I don't necessarily want to live close to my family, and most of them live in Stockton, San Francisco, and San Diego. I have done a few research on high cost of living with a lower salary versus low cost of living with a higher salary. There is not a specific area in California that I have in mind yet, and this is the reason why I started this post - to see if there are any mom's out there who made a bold move to work/live in the states. Looking forward to hearing from you.
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    sounds like your kids and husband are making sacrifices while you plan to work in the most desired areas of the USA. working in a prison means you have to have the required visas.

    recently a Texas politician has been heavily criticized for leaving her children to attend Havard Law School, based on this outcry how could a mother leave her children to advance her career, I would say right now Americans would think the same of a Canadian leaving her small children to work in the most desired areas of the USA.
    Fiona59 and loriangel14 like this.
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    There is no doubt that this type of judgment exists in people's mind and that is just simply human nature. My intention is to work legally in the states and if all goes well, we will consider moving closer to our family. Thanks for your comment, Ginger's Mom
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    I live and work in San Francisco so I could probably comment on your chances.

    Yes, the entire San-Francisco Bay Area is a desirable destination for nurses because of the higher salaries here. However, the cost of living is up there (the city of San Francisco is next only to NYC as far as the costliest city to live in the US). Having said, that nothing stops nurses from other parts of the US (and Canada) in seeking opportunities here and that's OK by me - we all make our own choices in the end.

    Those nurses who come in with a few years of experience usually have a better chance of getting jobs. The fresh grads, even those who went to California schools, tend to wait the most to land a job. Many experienced, non-California nurses from somewhere else get in as a traveler. Hospitals here still use travelers and some travelers do end up getting hired by the facilities they once contract with.

    The question is how do you start this process as a Canadian citizen knowing that you can't apply for an RN license in California without a valid US SSN? What some Canadian nurses have done in the past is to start in another state first (i.e., Washington, like you mentioned can be an option if they will let you take the NCLEX without a US SSN). Whatever you decide, good luck on your future career.
    canuck-nurse likes this.
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    Quote from juan de la cruz

    The question is how do you start this process as a Canadian citizen knowing that you can't apply for an RN license in California without a valid US SSN? What some Canadian nurses have done in the past is to start in another state first (i.e., Washington, like you mentioned can be an option if they will let you take the NCLEX without a US SSN). Whatever you decide, good luck on your future career.
    Exactly you will have to start in one state and meet requirements and passed NCLEX and then once you have your TN visa and have applied for a US SSN and receive a number then apply to CA who will do their own assessment.
    loriangel14 and canuck-nurse like this.
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    juan de la cruz , Silverdragon102
    Thank you for your time and great advice! I do have a different situation as I am a new grad with a young family, so there there will be an extensive researching and planning involved with this process. My husband is willing to be SAHD (Stay-At-Home-Dad) if we were to pursue our plan and make the move to Washington State first, and I am pretty determine that things will work out at the end.
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    I canuck-nurse. I'd like to get in touch with you via email. I'm thinking of moving to the US from Canada for some of the reasons you mention in your post. I'm not providing my email here and I can't use PM as I'm new to this website…so not sure how I can contact you. Let me know


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