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Army Air Force Navy

Nursing Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Nursing Officers provide primary and tertiary patient care to ill and injured Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members, either in Canadian Forces Health Services Centres in Canada, or in acute care hospitals while on operations abroad. Nursing Officers also provide preventive, occupational and environmental health care services through practice as well as through health education and policy development.

Nursing Officers work within a collaborative practice model with other members of the health care team. Nursing Officers have the opportunity to work in different domains of nursing practice including:

  • Clinical/patient care delivery;
  • Health services policy development;
  • Administration; and
  • Training and education.

Work environment

Nursing Officers usually work in hospitals and clinics in a collaborative practice with other medical team members. The work schedule may vary from shift work to a regular 40-hour work week, depending on the environment. Nursing Officers may be called to assist in exercises, medical evacuation flights, and domestic or international emergencies.

During field exercises and deployments to military operations abroad, Nursing Officers live and work in the same environment as the CAF members they treat.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview


Phillip White:


I'm Captain Phillip White from Miramichi, New Brunswick, and I'm a Nursing Officer.




Nursing officers are among the primary health care professionals who ensure that Canadian armed forces uniformed personnel are well taken care of wherever they may be, both here in Canada and abroad. They have a dynamic job that includes direct patient care, administration, training, and education. And as leaders, they actively shape

the military health care system, ensuring optimal patient care.


Phillip White:


At the end of the day, my job is to provide care to our Canadian forces members,

to keep them healthy. And if they're not healthy, to get them back to a place where they can be deployable, they can be operational and they can get back to doing their jobs.


The opportunities are endless, really. We have nurses working in our clinics

across Canada as primary care nurses. They're coordinating care for our CAF members on the bases in Wings all across Canada. And then if you move into the specialty side of things, you can train either as a mental health nursing officer, a critical care nursing officer, an operating room nursing officer, a nurse practitioner, or even to do aeromedical evacuation. So whatever clinical interest you have, the CAF provides a way for you to meet that. Or if you're looking to gear your career more towards education, leadership, more of an administrative realm, the CAF provides that opportunity readily as well.




Nursing officers work in an interdisciplinary environment with doctors, physicians assistants, medical technicians and other allied health professionals. They work in clinics, field ambulances, headquarters and other domestic posts and deploy overseas as part of critical military and humanitarian operations. Specialists like mental health nurses and nurse practitioners work alongside their medical surgical colleagues in primary health care settings, providing CAF members with day to day care in garrison.


But specialized nurses with qualifications in critical care and perioperative nursing are typically embedded in civilian health care facilities such as emergency departments,

intensive care units and operating rooms, in order to maintain their clinical skills

at the highest level, until they are needed on exercises or deployments.


Phillip White:


I think when I talk to my civilian colleagues, they're definitely impressed with the diversity that I've been able to have in my career. They're all, for the most part, still in the same job roles that they were when I left. For them to look at what I'm doing, you know, with my frequent postings and going on exercises, some of the high level work and projects I've been involved in. The ability for me to balance clinical with other work and really have a career that lets me work in two areas that I'm passionate about… For them I think that's very impressive.


You know, when you take a step back and you look at our mandate within the CAF to support operations to protect Canadians at home and abroad, being able to contribute to that is definitely rewarding. And when you boil that down into your job role, for me as a nursing officer, being a part of that is definitely very rewarding.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Medical-Surgical Nurse
  • Community Health Nurse
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Manager
  • Nurse Supervisor / Clinical Coordinator


After enrolment, Nursing Officers start Basic Military Officer Qualification training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the CAF, basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic Military Officer Qualification training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.


Learn more about Basic Training here.

Nursing Officers are required to complete Clinical Phase Training (CPT) to ensure they have the clinical competencies required to deliver nursing in acute care military setting. The length of the preceptorship depends on each Nursing Officer’s level of clinical experience.

Nursing Officers must complete the Common Health Services Officer (CHSO) course which is an eight-day e-learning course available on the Defence Learning Network (DLN).  The CHSO course introduces Nursing Officers to Canadian Armed Forces policies and procedures as well as HR management of military members and civilian personnel.

Nursing Officers attend the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario. They are introduced the CAF Health Services organization and history, the roles and responsibilities of the different military clinical team members, and the unique conditions of offering nursing care in a deployed, operational care setting.

Nursing Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Critical Care;
  • Mental Health Nursing;
  • Perioperative Care;
  • Emergency Room Nursing;
  • Aeromedical Evacuation Nursing; and
  • Primary care nursing.

As they progress in their career, Nursing Officers who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Advanced Leadership;
  • Advanced Management;
  • Advanced Administration;
  • Instructional techniques; and
  • Post graduate training.

Entry plans

If you already have a university degree and licence to practise as a registered Nurse in a Canadian province or territory, the CAF may place you directly into an on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP)

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a civilian Canadian University. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in the CAF for a period of time. Candidates must attend a civilian Canadian University as the Royal Canadian Military College System does not offer a degree that matches this occupation.  If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and a Canadian university concurrently as the CAF does not have reserved seats.

Continuing Education Officer Training Plan (CEOTP) –  Nursing Officer

If you already have a Diploma in Nursing from an accredited Canadian college, a current active license to practise as a Registered Nurse from a Canadian provincial or territorial regulatory authority and have proof of good standing from that authority, the CAF may subsidize up to two years of full-time studies to complete an undergraduate nursing program. You must be able to provide proof of unconditional acceptance into as accredited Canadian nursing program.

For further information, please contact a Canadian Forces Health Services Recruiter:

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for Forces operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the CAF and the local community.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with health services unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Nursing Officers may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group. They are employed to provide primary and specialist health care for CAF members. Those employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at a military medical unit at a location within Canada.

Opportunities for part-time employment are available to:

·       Primary Care/Ambulatory Care Nurses;

·       Emergency Nurses;

·       Critical Care Nurses;

·       Medical/Surgical Nurses;

·       Peri-Operative Nurses; and

·       Nurse Practitioners.

Registered or Licensed Practical Nurses interested in a part-time career in the CAF can review the Medical Assistant opportunity.

Operating Room Technicians interested in a part-time career in the CAF can review the Operating Room Technician opportunity.

Find a Recruiting Centre

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. All members complete Basic Military Training, which covers topics such as rank structure, wearing a uniform, marching, firing a weapon for self-defence or defence of your patients (as per the Geneva Convention), and surviving in a field environment. This training varies in length and is usually available in two-week sessions or on weekends. You must also complete basic occupational training, which teaches you how to employ your clinical skill/profession within the military environment. This training lasts six weeks, is available in one-, two- or three-week sessions and takes place at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario.

Reserve Force members are paid 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.