Nursing Transformation: PSW to PN Pathway


Disclaimer: Please note that this pathway is only for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Ontario who wish to enrol in a Practical Nursing (PN) program that will prepare them to qualify as Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) in Ontario. If you are interested in general Nursing education, please visit this page.

Ontario colleges are offering a new pathway for working PSWs who wish to continue their studies toward qualifying to practice in Ontario as a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN). The courses are designed to offer flexible study options for working PSWs for core components of the pathway to Practical Nursing programs offered at Ontario’s public colleges.

Upon successfully completing six pathway courses, PSWs will be eligible for advanced entry into a public college’s four-semester Practical Nursing (PN) Program. Graduates of approved PN programs are eligible to apply to the College of Nurses of Ontario to write the registration exam to practice in Ontario as an RPN.

The creation of these courses was funded through the Ontario government’s Nursing Program Transformation in Ontario’s Colleges initiative.

1. Am I eligible to take the PSW to PN pathway courses?

The PSW to PN pathway courses are available to PSWs who:

  • Have Canadian citizenship or Canadian permanent resident status or appropriate authorization under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada) that permits an individual to engage in the practice of nursing in Ontario.
  • Graduated with a 65 percent cumulative average from a PSW program in Ontario that meets the Ontario Ministry of Colleges and Universities program standards (includes PSW programs offered by the public colleges, private career colleges, and district school boards in Ontario)
  • AND have worked as a PSW in Ontario within the past five years on at least a part-time or casual basis.

If you do not meet these criteria and are interested in exploring options for becoming a Practical Nurse, please contact your local college. A map of Ontario colleges and main campus locations can be found here.

2. How many courses are in the pathway?

The PSW to PN pathway consists of six courses*:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Nursing Theory Bridge
  • Nursing Professionalism
  • Math for Practical Nurses
  • Health Assessment
  • Transition to Practical Nursing

*Please note that the Nursing Theory and Transition to Practical Nursing are half-courses.

3. Do I have to enrol full-time in the PSW to PN pathway courses?

No, the courses are available for course-by-course registration on a part-time, monthly basis. The courses are asynchronous, which means you can learn on your own schedule, within a certain timeframe. You can access and complete the coursework at any time while meeting the weekly deadlines in each course.

Please click the links below for more information about each course’s start-dates.

4. Are all course offered online?

All six courses are offered online, asynchronously on a monthly basis.

5. Do I have to take all the courses in the pathway?

Most students will be required to complete all the courses. It is possible that you may receive Advanced Standing for specific courses based on your prior PSW education or prior experiential learning (PLAR).

Although you do not need to complete all the courses in a particular order, it is recommended that students complete the following courses before registering for the Transition to Practical Nursing course:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nursing Theory
  • Nursing Professionalism
  • Math for Practical Nurses
  • Health Assessment
6. Is entry into a PN program automatic after completing all the pathway courses?

PSWs who successfully complete the pathway courses will be eligible for admission directly into Semester 2 at a participating college for key courses of the Practical Nursing diploma program.

When you complete the pathway, you will be eligible to apply to a “receiving” college of your choice.

Note: Admission to a receiving college may be subject to some conditions, including the start date of Semester 2 and the availability of spaces at your chosen college. Before applying to a receiving college, please contact their Admissions office to confirm their admission policies for this pathway.

The receiving colleges are Algonquin College, Cambrian College, Durham College, Niagara College and St Lawrence College.

7. Is there funding available to cover the cost of these pathway courses?

PSWs enroled in the PSW to PN pathway may be eligible for tuition reimbursement through the Bridging Educational Grant in Nursing (BEGIN) program offered by the Registered Practical Nurses Association, also known as WeRPN.

Further information about the BEGIN program can be found on the WeRPN website.

8. How do I register for a course?

Registration information is available above in bullet #3. Select a course to see the course description, start date, and list of colleges offering it. Select a college from the list and follow the enrolment directions to register.

If you have general questions about the Nursing Transformation PSW-PN pathway, or need support with navigating the process, please send an email to the Nursing Transformation Career Readiness Service at

9. Will I receive a credential for completing these courses?

The pathway courses allow students to obtain course credits toward a Practical Nursing diploma. To enter into the PN program at a participating college, students will need to request that a record of their successful completion of pathway courses be sent to the “receiving” college where they plan to complete the rest of the courses in the PN program.

Upon successful completion of all the requirements of the PN program, graduates will receive an Ontario college diploma.

10. Are online courses self-paced, and will I have to be online at specific times?

Every course will have a schedule to follow. As the theory courses are available 24/7 and course schedules have week-to-week timelines, coursework may be completed at any time within the week.

11. Will I have access to support if I need help with my online course? 

Yes. For academic questions, your course facilitator should be your first contact. Once you register for a course, you will also receive information regarding the key contacts for technical support.

12. Are the courses available in French?

The PSW-PN Nursing Transformation courses will be available in French in the near future. This website will be updated as more information becomes available.

13. Are there other resources available to help me prepare for the pathway courses? 

Yes, all 24 public colleges offer free online or in-person upgrading courses and resources to Ontario residents 19 years of age or older. To learn more about these online courses and eligibility, visit Academic and Career Entrance (ACE) Distance.

For in-class/hybrid options, click here and select the link to your local college upgrading program.