Health Canada nurses who work in First Nations communities provide quality nursing practice, which is evidence informed and respectful of culture, to enhance the health of First Nations people.

Where nurses work

Nursing careers

Nurses work in First Nations communities south of 60 degrees in rural, remote or isolated communities. With more than 600 First Nations communities across Canada, there are 76 nursing stations and over 195 health centres servicing these communities. Nurses are often the communities' main point of contact with the health care system. In about half of these health facilities, registered nurses are employed by Health Canada, part of the Federal Government. In the other communities, nurses are employed by the Band Council as these communities have responsibility for health care services through a transfer agreement.

Through the Office of Nursing Services (ONS) and the Regional Offices of FNIH, Health Canada employs hundreds of nurses. FNIH regional offices ensure service, support and management such as providing orientation for newly recruited nurses. ONS develops standards, policies, guidelines and leads national initiatives.

What nurses do

Providing primary health care in remote and culturally diverse communities places unique demands on nurses in First Nations communities. In homes, schools, health centres and nursing stations, nurses might be:

  • Visiting new parents, facilitating new baby care;
  • Providing immunization;
  • Encouraging physical activity;
  • Facilitating community education sessions;
  • Providing primary care services for common conditions during scheduled clinics; and
  • Attending to emergency needs (for example: trauma, obstetrical emergencies and cardiac conditions).

Primary care

As there is limited access to hospitals and doctors, nurses in remote communities often provide care that requires advanced knowledge, skills and clinical judgment. Health Canada employed nursed use a holistic approach to care for clients requiring treatment for routine, acute and emergency health problems, focusing on:

  • Health promotion;
  • Disease prevention;
  • Illness management; and
  • Clinical assessment.

Community health nursing

Nurses working in First Nations communities are responsible for planning and implementing culturally appropriate health programs.

For the nurse who lacks formal education in community health nursing, there is a requirement by Health Canada that the nurse must successfully complete appropriate courses in this field. FNIHB employed nurses are provided with financial support to complete this education. Course credits can be earned toward the baccalaureate nursing degree.

To learn more...

To learn more about Health Canada's current nursing opportunities, visit  Careers in the federal Public Service, and search the key word "nurse" by province!

Related sources

Additional information related to nursing in First Nations Communities is available from these sources:

Standards of practice

The following publications provide assessment resources and guidelines for nurses working in First Nations Communities:

  • Emergency Medical Transportation Guidelines for Nurses in Primary Care
  • Pharmacy Standards of Practice for First Nations and Inuit Health Branch Health Facilities

The following documents provide assessment resources and clinical practice guidelines for nurses working in First Nations Communities:

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