Some industries require universal criminal background checks as part of the hiring process. Healthcare, representing over two million workers in Canada, is one of those industries.

Nurses are in high demand, so we dedicated this week’s blog to helping anyone looking for a nursing job in Canada. It helps to know what to expect and to be prepared. Who better to learn from than a Canadian nurse based in Ontario?

We started by asking the nurse who agreed to be interviewed for this blog about her background.

“I’ve been a practicing RPN [Registered practical nurse] in Ontario for the past five years,” says the nurse. She has worked in four major Ontario hospitals with similar but slightly different hiring processes.

According to the nurse, there are several essential steps in the hiring process.

“The first step is to apply on the hospital’s website,” says the nurse. “Hospital sites often have checks and balances to filter out candidates who don’t meet minimum requirements. I ran into this problem before I had accumulated work experience.”

Almost all hospitals require that a posting closes before they contact prospective job seekers for an interview. “This was not a quick process in any of the hospitals I was hired to work,” says the nurse. “It’s taken me up to three months to be onboarded for a position in a major hospital.”

The nurse says the next step is almost always an interview, which can be online or in person.  A decision is usually made within two weeks, and “this is when the next series of steps comes into play,” she says.

Once the hospital has made a decision, successful candidates receive an offer of employment and a list of requirements that includes links and instructions. Requirements might include:

  • Pass medical requirements, such as a TB test.
  • Agree to a background check: The hospital will provide prospective employees with a website to obtain a criminal background check. “If there are any conflicts in your information, you may be directed to a physical location to validate your identity,” says the nurse. “This happened to me with one hospital.”
  • Supply a police background check. “This is a vulnerable sector check,” explains the nurse. “Even though they make you get a basic police check using their sources, they also make you supply this enhanced background check.” This requirement is because nurses work with children and vulnerable adults. “It’s a 100% requirement,” says the nurse. “You can only obtain this from the police.”

Hospitals also request three to 10 references, which can’t be family members and, in most cases, must be previous supervisors and professional references.

The nurse says that nursing candidates for hospital positions should also prepare to complete health and safety training videos within two weeks of an offer. “I’ve had to do this in all cases.”

During the hiring process, the nurse encountered another significant aspect: a major hospital that had over-hired. All candidates had to undergo to a week of daily testing and training, and the hospital only retained top performers. “This tells you the competition is fierce,” says the nurse.

To close off the interview, we asked the nurse what she recommends to candidates preparing for a position in a hospital.

“I would suggest having all your references, educational credentials and background checks organized and in order,” says the nurse. “That’ll make it easier to go through all the steps, get hired and start working faster.”

We hope you found this blog helpful as you prepare for your next nursing opportunity. Interested in more information about obtaining background checks? Visit