Nurse New to Nova Scotia

I am an international nurse transitioning to nursing in Nova Scotia and I have just received my conditional licence. What key points should I consider as a transitioning nurse?

Welcome to the nursing profession in Nova Scotia (NS). Your conditional license authorizes you to practice nursing with certain conditions and restrictions while you complete any outstanding registration requirements. The conditions and restrictions are in place as a safeguard. They are intended to allow you the time to become orientated to the NS health care system and support you as you transition from a learner to a full practising nurse. It is important that your employer is aware of the specific conditions and restrictions to be able to support you.

As a nurse new to NS, there are many elements that will influence your successful transition into the province and the health care system. NSCN, your employer and nursing colleagues in your practice context, have a responsibility to support you as you transition to practice. It is important to recognize that you, as an individual nurse, also have a role in understanding your professional accountabilities as they relate to practising nursing in NS.

Your accountabilities include:
  • Practising in accordance with your professional scope of practice for your designation in NS, the NS standards of practice, the code of ethics, your employer's policies and processes, and within the conditions and restrictions applied to your licence.
  • Understanding the expectations of your employer within your area of practice.
  • Understanding the roles of other nurses you are working with and the roles of the interprofessional team.
  • Conducting a self-assessment to determine your learning goals, which could include building on the knowledge you already have, developing skills that you may have not had the opportunity to put into practice, understanding health care and the health care context in NS and working collaboratively within a multidisciplinary team.
  • Recognizing and asking for help from your manager or nursing colleagues if you are unsure of a skill or intervention or when the care of a client is complex and exceeds your level of competence.
  • Recognizing and taking steps to resolve a professional practice issue in collaboration with your manager.
Consider the following actions to support you in your transition to practice:
  • Develop a professional growth plan to identify your learning goals and reflect on your experiences and activities to meet those goals.
  • Ensure you have a clear understanding of the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities expected of you in your role.
  • Work with your manager, clinical nurse educator (if available) or preceptor and request opportunities to develop your competence and apply your knowledge and skills, including leadership and collaboration.
  • Identify and recognize any barriers or circumstances that may impact your ability to practice safely and develop a plan to address those. These barriers or circumstances could include both professional (such as terminology, workplace norms) or personal (such as adjusting to a new culture and place, illness or injury).
  • Know the limits of your practice capability during your period of transition.
  • Ask for support of your manager, nursing colleagues and other members of the health care team who are familiar with the care area and the client population.
  • Establish a plan for regular communication to discuss any concerns related to your transition to practice with your manager and assigned preceptor. This could include but not limited to, requesting more time to build your competence to work independently.
  • Reach out to a NSCN Practice Consultant at for guidance.
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For further information on anything contained within this practice support tool, please contact an NSCN Practice Consultant at

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