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Personal Support Worker (PSW) to Practical Nurse (PN) Bridging Programs

If you are currently trained as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in Ontario, it is worth considering how to upgrade your clinical qualifications to become a Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).

There are many benefits to advancing your clinical practice.

Job opportunities for RPNs are becoming especially prevalent as the geriatric population in Ontario is growing in size, thus demonstrating a need for qualified nursing care in acute care settings, community health agencies and long-term care facilities.

As a Registered Practical Nurse, you will also be entitled to job benefits such as higher pay and greater job satisfaction.

Upon enrolling in an Practical Nursing (PN) program, those with a PSW certificate are usually given a credit.

There are many colleges that offer Personal Support Worker to Practical Nursing bridging programs.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Which colleges offer this program?
  • The cost
  • Duration
  • Intake, and
  • Direct links to college  websites.

Subsequently, this article will equip you with valuable information that you will need in order to make an informed decision regarding enrolling in a bridge program.


A bridge program is defined as a formal partnership between two post-secondary schools.

It provides students with advanced standing within a program at a particular educational institution through the recognition of their academic history in a similar discipline.

Bridge courses can be classified under three distinct types:

  • bilateral,
  • multilateral, and
  • concurrent.

Bilateral and multilateral agreements are between two or more similar institutions and are typically the type that post-secondary schools offer with respect to PSW to RPN bridge programs.



PSW to PN bridging programs

Many institutions in Ontario offer continuing education and bridging programs for a Personal Support Worker to certify as a Registered Practical Nurse.

Following is a list of colleges that offer this bridging program in Ontario, Canada.


Mohawk College offers a Practical Nursing (PSW to PN bridging stream) program.

This program is specifically designed for those who have completed a certified PSW course in order to advance into the second semester of the Practical Nursing program.

The program emphasizes collaborative learning alongside clinical training, theory and lab work.

Following completion of the Practical Nursing diploma program, graduates are eligible to take the Canadian Registered Practical Nurse Examination (CRPNE), administered by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO).


To apply for the Mohawk program, you will need to:

  • Submit proof of completion of Grade 12 English C or U,
  • Grade 11 or 12 Mathematics C, M or U (M or U recommended), 
  • Grade 11 or 12 Sciences, and
  • Evidence of completion of a Personal Support Worker Certificate program from an accredited Ontario college since 2006.

Once you meet the above requirements, you will also be asked to take the Health Occupation Aptitude Examination (HOAE) test with the Mohawk Pre-Admission Testing Centre for a $50 fee.

Please note that this is a very competitive program and you must apply as early as possible.


The estimated cost for the first year of the Practical Nurse program is $6,152.10.

Mohawk also offers a specialized Practical Nurse training for Aboriginal communities. The cost of this program is $5,962.87 for one year.

Additional costs for both programs include pre-clinical placement clearance costs such as hepatitis injections, CPR training, facial mask fitting and police clearance.

There is no distance education program currently offered, but some non-nursing courses are available online.

For more details about this program, visit Mohawk College website.


Fleming College has two bridging opportunities for Personal Support Workers who have graduated from a PSW course at a community college.

The courses are housed under their Continuing Education & Online Learning program.

You must complete the following bridging courses:

  • Introductory computing,
  • Anatomy and Physiology I,
  • Bridged Anatomy and Physiology I,
  • Non-violent Crisis Intervention
  • Field Preparation for PSW Bridging to PN,
  • Transitional Concepts for PSW Bridging, and
  • College communications for helping professionals.

All these courses can be taken part-time however the PN program is a full-time day program offered only at the Sutherland campus in Peterborough.

Upon completion of the bridging courses, you will be eligible for the second semester of the full time PN program.

Courses are registered and paid for individually.

All courses take place on their Sutherland campus, cost $5.40 per course hour and range from 15-60 hours. Courses therefore range between $ 104.70 and $ 418.80 each in total.


George Brown College offers a full-time Personal Support Worker Pathway to Practical Nursing Program.

To qualify for admittance into the pathway program, applicants must have graduated from a Personal Support Worker Certificate program or equivalent with a minimum 3.0 grade point average.

This is a 14 week full-time program that prepares PSW’s for entry into the Practical Nursing program at George Brown.

You must complete the following required courses:

  • Science,
  • Mathematics,
  • Pathway English,
  • Principles in Biology, and
  • Health and Wellness

Tuition fees for the one semester of this program is $1,734.00.


Bridging program at Algonquin College is called “Academic Pathway for Movement from Personal Support Worker to Practical Nursing Program“.

This academic pathway can potentially allow PSW course graduates to immediately enter Level 2 of the Practical Nursing program.

Hence, it is classified as a pathway and not a program – students are required to complete a series of classes and if they are successful, will be permitted to apply to Level 2 of the Practical Nursing curriculum without having to take further high school classes or equivalences.

The pathway is designed to provide students with a higher level of knowledge and practice through which they can potentially advance their nursing careers.

All applicants to this pathway:

  • Must have the equivalent of one year of full-time practice hours as a PSW which totals 1750 hours.
  • Are also expected to have a minimum of 30% of the hours in a Home for the Aged and/or Long Term Care agency.


  • Applicants must also have a reference letter from a current or recent employer which describes his or her work experience.
  • Applicants who have graduated from a community college must have a minimum GPA of 70% in their to have obtained a minimum of a 70%  in their Personal Support Worker program.
  • Applicants who have completed their PSW program from a private college or Vocational High School must have 70% overall.

With an entry in May of each year, this program comprises of the following courses:

  • Communications,
  • Introduction To Psychology,
  • PSW to PN Nursing Theory and Seminar, and
  • Fundamentals of  Anatomy  and Physiology for PSW to PN Bridge

Courses are to be taken individually for $374 to $389 each. The total tuition fees for the course is approximately $1470.

The course itself lasts one semester and students are required to obtain at least 63% in all courses.

A minimum of 55% is required on the Health Occupations Aptitude Exam (HOAE) test which you will be required to take after completing the pathway.

Ten places in the Practical Nursing  (PN) program are reserved for students who earn the highest marks with the remaining applicants being placed in a pool to be chosen for the course based on availability.

The program is offered at the school’s Woodroffe Campus.


This program allows those who have successfully completed a PSW program to enter the 3rd semester of the Practical Nursing (PN) course offered by the this college.

Classes must be taken in a specific order as per guidelines.

This program is offered on a part-time basis with classes being offered one day per week. The bridging course at Conestoga College takes approximately two years to complete.

Students who complete it will then be offered the opportunity to undertake the third semester of the PN program part-time, with the possibility of transferring to full-time if space is available in the full-time program.

Fourth semester of the PN course contains a clinical element and must be taken full-time.

Therefore the bridging courses, in addition to the final two semesters of the PN program, will take between three to four years to complete.


Applicants must have:

  • A PSW certificate,
  • An updated resume, and
  • A high school diploma, or
  • A completed post secondary school transcript that includes  English, Biology, Chemistry and/or Physics  courses with an overall minimum average of 75%.

As the program is offered on a part-time basis, course fees are individual and charged per class.Classes cost between approximately $250 to $300 each.

The course  is  offered at the school’s Doos Campus with intake taking place  both in September and January.


There are so many opportunities for you to advance your career and there is absolutely no reason you should not.

Once you have determined the right kind of program to suit your lifestyle, you will find that the investment you make in one of these courses will greatly enhance your professional life.

Image credit: “Nurse” used under a Creative Commons Attribution from waltstoneburner on Flickr

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17 comments… add one
  • sandipak May 3, 2015, 8:59 pm

    hi there
    i am currently doing psw job.i did my psw diploma from comuntiy college.now i want to upgrade my skill.please give me proper advise what should i do.i am looking operating room nursing program.can i do .a friend of mine she told me about this course .please help me to find a right direction thanks.my number is 905 320 2438 thanks.

    • Avtar October 14, 2015, 11:19 am

      Hello Sandipak,
      Thank you for leaving a comment.
      As a Personal Support Worker, there are many courses and programs you can pursue to further your education.
      You can take short-term courses (these are often free). https://personalsupportworkerhq.com/continuing-education/
      In order for you to become an OR Nurse, you have to complete the nursing program. After you have become a nurse (next step as a PSW will be to become a Practical Nurse), you can take OR certificate course.
      Hope this helps.

  • Adriana Henriquez May 19, 2015, 10:43 am

    Hi I am currently working in a hospital as an OR Assistant and ICU Assistant, which is more than a simple PSW on a regular floor. I’m a Certificated PSW looking upgrade to RPN but without wasting time or money. I read the review of the college and is pretty good. But I don’t understand what I have to take 1 course a week and spend 2 years doing something that I should finish in 1 or less. In that time I can complete the 2 years for RN or RT.I think we can find other solutions. Please help me and guide me to do right. If you need that I submit the documents that I have or other information just email me back. I hope I can hear from you and find the right solution. My phone number at home is 905-237-7962 ……you can leave me any message there. Thank you for everything …..Adriana

    • Avtar October 14, 2015, 10:50 am

      Hi Adriana,
      Thank you for your comment.
      I understand bridging programs are lengthy. However, this is something the colleges have outlined and unfortunately go whatever criteria they have specified.
      Good luck!
      Avtar from PSWHQ

      • Nathan June 21, 2016, 4:21 pm

        Does St Lawrence in Cornwall offer this

  • Shelsie October 14, 2015, 7:49 pm

    This use to be a bridging program in Seaforth on what happened to that

    • Avtar October 14, 2015, 11:47 pm


    • Avtar October 17, 2015, 10:13 am

      Shelsie…thanks for your comment.
      Healthkick (http://www.healthkickhuron.ca/) is based in Seaforth, Ontario. It offers healthcare related programs and offer services such as healthcare training and work placements.
      Healthkick do not offer PSW to PN bridging and both these programs are offered separately.
      Both these programs are offered in collaboration with Georgian college (http://www.georgiancollege.ca/).
      The Personal Support Worker program is currently offered at the Seaforth and Zurich sites and meets the Ministry of Health & Long Term Care (MOHLTC) standard requirement for Personal Support Workers. Visit the following link for more details: http://www.healthkickhuron.ca/PSW.html
      The Practical Nursing program is offered at the Huron site: 32B Centennial Drive, Seaforth, ON. This is a four year part-time program. Click on this (http://goo.gl/odL6ow) link for more details.

  • Jim Stewart October 15, 2015, 10:37 am

    In my years working as an RN in a few nursing homes in Ontario I have see more than a few RPNs go the opposite direction. That is to choose to work as a PSW instead of an RPN at the facility. The people I spoke with that took this route all had the same rationale for doing so.
    In many Long Term Care facilities the difference in pay for an RPN and a PSW was only about $1.00 to $2.00 per hour. As an RPN they had to pay an annual registration fee with the College of Nurses and as a PSW no such fee is required. The level of professional accountability as an RPN (a Regulated Healthcare Professional) was greatly higher than a PSW but was only scantly higher in salary. The need to administer medications and contact physicians directly for resident related drug and treatment orders was again a responsibility that offered severe repressions should an error be made that were not there as a PSW. There was a significant increase in so-called paperwork as an RPN than as a PSW and therefore a greatly decreased contact time with residents.

    • Avtar October 17, 2015, 10:39 am

      Jim…thanks for sharing your experience.
      It is very interesting to see RPN’s choosing to work as PSW’s. The amount of “paperwork” and liability are definitely a strong hindrance especially when the compensation for added responsibility is meagre.
      I believe, this is happening more in the community and Long-term care facilities.
      In hospital settings, depending on the organization, the pay difference between PSW’s and RPN’s is $5 to $7.
      I still believe RPN’s are not compensated fairly.
      Their scope of practice has widened so much over the past few years such that RPN’s and RN’s share almost the same amount of responsibility. However, the pay difference is huge!

  • Sharon Rai May 3, 2017, 10:18 am

    im studying at durham college the PSW, want to apply for RPN and im an international student having the degree of bachelors of nursing from india but im totally confused what should I do can you help me out?

  • Cam January 22, 2018, 9:42 pm

    I am currently working at Palliative Care Hospice as a clinical health care aide, however I will be moving to Florida for a year. Will my designation as a Personal Support Worker be recognized there or will I need further education or certification in order to gain employment. Any information will be helpful.
    Thank you, Cam.

    • Avtar January 29, 2018, 2:12 pm

      Hi Cam…Kindly check with the local state/county, if they will recognize your Ontario PSW diploma.
      One thing I’ll recommend is obtaining course descriptions and contents from the College where you got your PSW diploma from.
      This can come in handy if you have to get an evaluation done.
      All the best,

  • Jola January 24, 2018, 5:15 pm

    Am currently doing my PSW in a private institution in Hamilton. I already started my clinical and finishing by end of February 2018. I will like to do the bridging course to RPN. Kindly advice on the steps to take.

  • Lindsay January 27, 2018, 11:16 pm

    will the mohawk rpn program accept a psw acredited certiicate that was from a psw bridging program? i was still required to do the exam!

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