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Volunteering During a Pandemic

The College has received several questions from nurses and employers around whether nurses who have retired, or who are not practising nursing currently, can provide nursing care as volunteers during a pandemic. The following provides information regarding nurses who volunteer under such conditions.

In the event of a pandemic, can any nurse assume a volunteer position and practise nursing?

No. For an individual to practise nursing in even a volunteer position, she or he must hold a current registration in the General or Extended Class.

Only nurses with an up-to-date registration in the General or Extended Class, whether they are currently employed in nursing or not, have the ability to volunteer as nurses.

Can Non-Practising Class members volunteer as nurses?

No, a nurse who is a member of the Non-Practising Class is not permitted to practise nursing in either an employed or volunteer capacity.

Can Non-Practising Class members or those who have resigned return to nursing practice?

Yes, nurses in the Non-Practising Class or those who have resigned and want to return to nursing can reapply for registration in the General or Extended Class. To do this, they must meet reinstatement requirements, which requires evidence of nursing practice within three years or may require the applicant to pursue additional education to meet the practice requirement.

Those who do not hold a current registration with the College (i.e., nurses who have resigned their membership or have been suspended) can choose to work as Unregulated Care Providers (UCPs) or Personal Support Workers (PSWs). Individuals working as UCPs or PSWs are not permitted to refer to themselves as nurses or practise nursing.

Are individuals who hold Temporary Class registration able to practise nursing as volunteers?

No, individuals who hold temporary registration have not yet written, or are awaiting the results of, the registration exam. While they are registered with the College, being in the Temporary Class requires that they meet the terms and conditions of this class. See Temporary Class for more information.

What should nurses consider before volunteering?

Nurses should remember that the same practice standards and accountabilities apply regardless of whether nursing care is provided in an employment or volunteer situation. Nurses, especially those who have not practised for an extended period of time, must take steps to ensure that they can practice safely. They should consider the competencies required for the position for which they are volunteering, and identify any learning needs that are required to ensure competency and meet the expectations of the organization or facility.

What is the College's role?

The College manages a registration process (Emergency Assignment Class) that expedites the registration of nurses who have come from other jurisdictions to provide assistance in the event of an emergency. The College also maintains the Find a Nurse register, on which employers or volunteer coordinators can confirm that individuals approaching them as nursing volunteers are members of the College and eligible to practise.


Page last reviewed April 23, 2013