Module 1: Professional Accountability and Prescribing

Lesson 2

Regulation of Nursing Practice in Canada

Nursing practice for both NPs and RNs in Canada is regulated at the provincial/territorial level by regulatory bodies, either colleges or associations.  To meet the regulatory mandate of public protection, each regulator has developed competencies and standards of practice for RNs and NPs that guide nursing practice. It is important to note that while NPs have specific regulations, standards and guidelines that define their practice, they are accountable to be aware of and adhere to the standards and guidelines for RNs as well.  Finally, RNs and NPs must be aware of organizational and employer policies that may be in place to guide prescribing practice. While federal and provincial legislation as well regulatory mechanisms may be in place to support the RN and NP role in managing controlled drugs and substances, the employer may choose to restrict this practice depending on practice setting and/or patient context.

Nursing regulators in Canada have worked collaboratively to develop entry-level competencies for RNs and many have adopted or adapted the Canadian Nurse Practitioner Core Competency Framework (Canadian Nurses Association [CNA] 2010). In addition, nursing practice is further regulated through standards of practice (also known as limits, conditions and restrictions in some jurisdictions). These documents are used to guide all aspects of RN and NP practice, including the management and prescription of controlled drugs and substances, education and continuing competence requirements.

As with the federal and provincial/territorial legislation and regulation discussed in Lesson 1, it is critical that RNs and NPs have a clear understanding of their professional practice accountabilities as defined by the competency documents and standards of practice in their jurisdiction. We will examine these jurisdictional regulatory mechanisms by province/territory.