Differences between Canadian and USA nursing? - page 7

by Cinquefoil

23,222 Views | 81 Comments

Considering working in both the USA *and* Canada. Plenty of threads out there about the requirements for licensing etc in each place. But how about the differences and similarities in scope of practice? I read on one of the... Read More


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    As a Canadian RN who just moved to the US, I can name the following differences:

    1. Patient load. Heavier in the US than in Canada. I came from an ICU where we had to have our single patient (mostly fresh post-ops) within our sight at all times, so I still get nervous when I'm stuck in one of my patient's rooms for a while and can't visualize my other patient.

    2. Lack of breaks. RNs on staff don't seem to have a problem with not taking a break during their 12 hour shifts. Some of them think that eating at the nurses station for 15 minutes is sufficient. There is no clear system of break relief like there was at my Canadian hospital. No one is willing to give me a clear answer on who will be responsible for my patient if I decide to take my union mandated break time. Most of them don't even know how much of a break they are legally allowed to take during their shift. I've had nurses give me snarky "I don't take breaks." when I offer to look after their patients so they can go on break. There seems to be a mentality here that if you take breaks, you aren't a good nurse. Or that you're lazy and don't want to work hard. In Canada, at least on the unit I worked on, we HAD to take a break. It was a scheduled part of our shift.

    3. Emphasis on customer service is huge in the US. Almost to the point where RNs will not report being verbally abused or bullied by patients and their families.

    4. Larger disconnect between physicians and nurses. To the point where members of the physician team enter orders in the computer without informing you when you're standing a foot away from them. This seems very odd to me since as a nurse, I'm with my patient for 12 hours, and can give important information that might influence their plan of care. RNs presented the patients (head-to-toe assessment) during rounds at my Canadian hospital (teaching hospital as well).

    5. Fancy surroundings. It seems like hospitals here are more concerned with aesthetics (I guess it brings in those "customers"). There are new gadgets everywhere and everything looks hotel fancy. I can't help but wonder if that money could be better used to hire more nurses and decrease patient loads. Might benefit the patients more than flat screen TVs in their huge rooms.

    6. Last but not least, TEAM WORK: During my entire nursing career in Canada, there is not way people would be sitting and laughing at the nurses station while another RN ran their butt off for 12 hours. You didn't have to ask for help, it was just assumed that we would help everyone until every patient on the unit was settled. I find that no one wants to go above and beyond for a patient that they're not assigned to. There seems to be a larger focus on the individual, as opposed to the general wellbeing of the entire group.


    Similarities:

    1. Taxes. I was quite surprised that I get almost the same amount of taxes and deductions taken off my US paychecks that were deducted from my Canadian paycheck. Maybe it's just my state, but it seems like Canadians get more bang for their taxes than Americans do.

    2. I get paid $1 more an hour in the US (although I've been told that this state has higher wages than average for nurses than the rest of the country) than I did in Canada, however overtime was double time at my hospital in Canada, so made more money yearly.


    The things I do admire about my US hospital is their commitment to evidence based practice and how a lot of the RNs seem to be pursuing research and advanced degrees. I think this has more to do with there being a larger market for mid-level providers in the US.

    This post wasn't intended to be critical, just stating the differences. Overall, I think Canadians nurses definitely have better working conditions (pay, benefits, workload).

    Thank you for reading.
    Altra, katherine100, Zombi RN, and 9 others like this.
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    Wow! Ummm... i might be heading to canada after this....

    Pity about the cold.... but i guess lake effect snow and sub-zero wind chills in ohio should prepare me...
    Zombi RN likes this.
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    Quote from ohiostudent'11
    Wow! Ummm... i might be heading to canada after this....

    Pity about the cold.... but i guess lake effect snow and sub-zero wind chills in ohio should prepare me...

    Ever heard of British Columbia? The lowermainland and most of VI have winters the rest of Canada envy.
  4. 7
    I can't comment directly on the differences as I have never nursed in the states at all. But some differences that I've noticed after reading threads on AN for a number of years. Some have been mentioned in previous posts.

    -There are a number of tragically underpaid nurses in the states!

    -Canadian nurses are almost all unionized. I don't have to negotiate my own wage, nor wonder if my coworker is making more or less than I do. On that same note, I don't live in fear of being fired or remprimanded over very small issuses that I've seen mentioned here.

    -Lunch breaks and coffee breaks are taken. No ifs, ands or butts. I can count on two hands the number of shifts I've missed a break due to patient acuity or other reasons. I submit a form and get paid double for that missed break.

    -As an LPN, I play a valuable role in nursing and am respected by coworkers, in both acute and LTC. My employer and health authority are opening up many opportunities for LPNs and are paying for the courses (OR, hemo, ortho technician etc).

    -I don't have to walk up to my patient's bedside, wondering if they are stressed to the max about how they are going to pay for their hospital visit or treatment.
  5. 0
    There seems to be a larger focus on the individual, as opposed to the general wellbeing of the entire group.
    WOW if this doesn't sum up the differences in culture between the US and Canada I don't know what does!
  6. 0
    claire i like what you wrote. i have been doing research on nursing in canada. i am looking to move there sometime in the near future. while researching canadian nurses work conditions online i came up with several negative articles. however your post gives me hope!:d
  7. 0
    Canada seems more attractive day by day, especially since things in the US are looking dire. Hopefully Canada has reasonable leaders in the Prime Minister's office and Parliament. Can't say we have that here.
  8. 1
    Quote from Fiona59
    Ever heard of British Columbia? The lowermainland and most of VI have winters the rest of Canada envy.
    Yes lots and lots of rain in those areas but elsewhere in southern BC, very mild winters and very good ski conditions. NO igloos I promise!!
    katherine100 likes this.
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    //oh, and as someone also mentioned, In my experience (which is brief in Canada) you, the RN, typically does total care...all the bed baths, vitals, meds, ect. This is my experience from 2 provinces//

    Partly correct. In quebec we didn't have CNA's doing vitals. But the nurses did not do bedbaths. They would always call the CNA. The first time I saw nurses doing bedbaths was at a small hospital in upstate NY. The nurse manager tolld them' you are not above doing a bedbath'.


    oh, and as someone also mentioned, In my experience (which is brief in Canada) you, the RN, typically does total care...all the bed baths, vitals, meds, ect. This is my experience from 2 provinces - See more at: http://allnurses.com/general-nursing....0BtfdMgk.dpuf

    oh, and as someone also mentioned, In my experience (which is brief in Canada) you, the RN, typically does total care...all the bed baths, vitals, meds, ect. This is my experience from 2 provinces - See more at: http://allnurses.com/general-nursing...BtfdMgk.dpuf//
  10. 0
    You cannot lose yoru job for coming to work impaired? What?


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