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Army Air Force Navy

Nursing Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time

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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.

Career Overview


CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: I’m Captain Michelle Wilson from Montreal. I’m a Critical Care Nursing Officer and I’m posted to 8 Wing Trenton.

Nursing Officers are among the primary caregivers who ensure that Canadian Armed Forces uniformed personnel are cared for wherever they may be — both in Canada and abroad. They may be employed in clinics, field ambulances, headquarters, as well as a variety of other domestic posts, or overseas as part of military operations.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: Between civilian nursing and military nursing, there’s definitely some common threads. I mean, you’re still caring for people. But the practice environments are fairly different.

Nursing Officers work in a dynamic profession that includes direct patient care, administration, leadership, and training and education. They work in an interdisciplinary environment with physicians, physician assistants, medical technicians, and other allied health professionals. As leaders, they take an active role in shaping the military healthcare system, ensuring optimal patient care. They also work embedded within various civilian hospitals and healthcare facilities in their communities, where they are able to maintain their clinical readiness.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: We send our nurses to civilian settings to enable them to complete clinical hours and really to maintain their skills.

Nursing Officers deploy overseas to provide nursing care to our soldiers, sailors and air personnel in conflict zones and as part of multi-national military operations. They are also called upon to participate in a variety of humanitarian aid situations, which have included providing health care to civilians affected by natural disaster, disease outbreaks, or general health screenings for refugees settling in Canada.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: When I talk to civilian colleagues or friends that I went to nursing school with or worked with, they’re always a little bit in awe and asking me where I’m jetting off to next.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: One of my main goals when I joined was to deploy and have that experience. I did the DART deployment to the Philippines back in 2013 after the typhoon. It was really great to be able to go and feel like we were doing some good with the local population. And then recently, I got the opportunity to deploy to Mali with the UN mission.

After completing their educational and licensing requirements, as well as their military training, Nursing Officers are usually assigned to a Canadian Armed Forces Health Services Centre, a Field Ambulance, or the Field Hospital in one of the high-readiness detachments.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: A common first posting is either at a Field Ambulance or the Field Hospital. Those are pretty big units and a good place to really get into the culture of military nursing.

In addition to their daily work in military settings, Nursing Officers are often embedded in various civilian clinical settings such as medical surgical units, emergency departments, intensive care units, operating rooms, and pediatric units to maintain their skills.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: Pretty quickly upon getting into the military, I realized that I really enjoy clinical work. So I decided to specialize in critical care nursing — that was training that was sponsored by the military. The military encourages specialization for something you’re interested in. And you can also specialize in mental health nursing and perioperative nursing.

There are also opportunities for specialty training fully funded by the Canadian Armed Forces in areas such as primary care and aeromedical evacuations.

CAPTAIN MICHELLE WILSON: When I joined the Canadian Armed Forces, I had been a civilian nurse for 6 years already, and I couldn’t really see myself working for 20 years doing the same thing until I retired. And I was kind of looking for some adventure. Deployed nursing can give you an opportunity to do good things, to represent Canada in the world in a positive way. I definitely think that it has been a great experience for kind of expanding my horizons as a nurse.



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.