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FAQs: Declaration of Practice
NOTE: Council has approved the removal of "in Ontario" from the declaration of practice requirement because the evidence indicated it was no longer needed to protect the public. We are awaiting government's approval on this change. This year's annual renewal reflects the anticipated change. You will be asked if you practised nursing in the last three years; however, you will not be required to indicate you practised "in Ontario."
The College’s Registration Regulation requires all nurses in the General or Extended Classes to make a declaration about their nursing practice within the previous three years.
Nurses will make this declaration at the time of membership renewal, or at any other time when requested by the College.
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the declaration of practice.
What is the declaration of practice? When do I make it?
While completing the Annual Membership Renewal form each year, and at any other time upon request by the College, members of the:
- General Class will be required to declare whether they practised nursing within the previous three years.
- Extended Class (i.e., Nurse Practitioners) are required to declare whether they have practised in a clinical NP role with a population appropriate for the specialty certificate they hold within the previous three years (see FAQs: Clinical NP Practice). NPs who hold multiple specialty certificates will be required to make the declaration for each specialty certificate they hold.
If requested by the College, members must provide evidence to support their declaration.
Why am I required to make this declaration?
The declaration supports accurate and transparent information about nurses. The public will know that members registered in the General or Extended classes have recent nursing practice for the certificate(s) they hold. This information also supports health human resource planning in the province.
The declaration of practice also ensures that only members who practise nursing on an ongoing basis are permitted to maintain the privilege to practise nursing in either the General or Extended classes.
Finally, maintaining registration with the College and meeting membership requirements contribute to nurses' awareness of the changes to nursing legislation and regulation in Ontario, and the effect those changes have on their practice and responsibilities as self-regulated health professionals. It also supports nurses in remaining aware of changes to their scope of practice and the practice of other health professionals with whom they work.
How do I determine that I have "practised nursing" according to the certificate of registration I hold?
The nursing practice of an RPN or RN in the General Class must include:
- the use of nursing knowledge, skill and judgment and
- the application of relevant nursing practice standards and guidelines and
- an impact, whether direct or indirect, on the delivery of health care services to clients.
To determine whether you have practised nursing according to this definition, refer to the College’s Am I Practising Nursing? fact sheet.
An NP must maintain clinical NP practice to remain registered in the Extended Class. This clinical practice must include:
- direct interaction with the client population(s) consistent with each specialty certificate that the NP holds and
- the use of advanced nursing knowledge and decision-making skill in health assessment, diagnosis and therapeutics in the treatment of those clients.
Do I have to practise nursing for a minimum number of hours to meet the practice requirement?
No. The College does not specify the number of hours that members must practise within the three-year timeframe. The amount of nursing practice needed to maintain RPN, RN, or NP competence will vary for individual nurses based on their experience, knowledge and skill level. It is up to each member to determine how much practice is required to maintain that level of competence. In addition to the practice requirement, members are also expected to maintain competence and meet their Quality Assurance Program requirements.
How is the three-year period determined?
The three-year period is unique to each member. It is based on the date you last practised nursing according to your certificate of registration in Ontario. For example, if you stopped practising nursing on July 1, 2011, you have until June 30, 2014 to acquire the necessary nursing practice in order to maintain your certificate of registration.
Members who have recently registered with the College, or had a certificate of registration reinstated, have three years from the date of registration or reinstatement to acquire the necessary nursing practice (see below).
I have not practised nursing in the previous three years. What does this mean for me?
If you have not practised nursing at any time in the previous three years, you will have to answer 'no' to the declaration of practice. You will no longer be eligible to hold registration in the General or Extended classes. You can either apply to register in the Non-Practising Class or resign from the College. If you do not choose either option, your certificate of registration will be revoked.
I practised nursing in the previous three years, but not in Ontario. What does this mean for me?
If you have practised nursing in the previous three years, then you can answer ‘yes’ to the declaration of practice.
Does the College provide a list of nursing positions (i.e., staff nurse, nurse educator) that satisfy the declaration requirement?
No. Members are expected to reflect on their nursing practice and determine whether it satisfies the requirement as outlined above. RPNs, RNs and NPs work in roles that involve various dimensions of nursing practice, including clinical and non-clinical components. What you must determine is whether you meet the requirement, irrespective of your nursing position.
Does volunteering in an RPN, RN, or NP role meet the practice requirement?
Providing nursing services in a volunteer capacity meets the requirement if it is consistent with the requirement as described above. Keep in mind that you have to provide evidence to support your declaration if the College requests it.
New & Recently Reinstated Members
I am a new member and I have not had the opportunity to practise nursing yet. What does this mean for me?
New members of the College have three years from the date of registration to acquire the necessary nursing practice. Since you have been registered for less than three years, you will be permitted to maintain your certificate even though you have not practised yet.
However, if you do not practise nursing within your first three years of registering with the College, then you will be asked to either join the Non-Practising Class or resign from the College when you try to renew your membership for a fourth year.
I am registered as both an RPN and RN in the General Class. Can I use the same nursing practise to answer “yes” to the declaration for both certificates?
As a dual registrant, you will be asked to declare whether you have practised nursing within the previous three years. Your answer to the declaration will be applied to your RPN and RN General Class certificates of registration.
Reflect on your nursing practice and determine if it meets the requirements described above. Remember that the College may ask you to provide evidence that supports the declaration that you make.
Information about how the Declaration of Practice affects NPs can be found at FAQs: Clinical NP Practice.
I'm an employer located outside of Ontario, but some nurses employed by my agency work in Ontario. Will their employment by a non-Ontario agency affect their practice declaration?
The employer's location is not relevant. What matters is whether a nurse is able to declare nursing practice within the last three years.
To determine if they have practised nursing, nurses should consult the definition of practising nursing in the College's Am I Practising Nursing? fact sheet. Note also that NPs are required to have practised in a clinical NP role providing direct care to a population appropriate for their specialty certificate. Details about these requirements are provided in the preceding FAQs for nurses.
What am I required to provide to the nurses employed by me to support their practice declaration?
Employers are not required to provide anything at the time the nurse is making her or his declaration. However, at a later date, employers may be asked by a nurse or the College to provide some form of documentation that supports the declaration made by the nurse. The evidence will need to verify whether the nurse practised nursing as defined.
A nurse at my facility has been on long-term disability for over three years. How will the declaration of practice affect her employment?
Since this nurse has not practised for over three years, she will have to answer 'no' to the declaration of practice question and enter the Non-Practising Class. It is up to you, as the employer, to determine the requirements for nurses who are in your employ but have not practised nursing for over three years. When nurses in the Non-Practising Class want to return to nursing practice, they must apply for the reinstatement of their General or Extended Class certificate.
I have received a resume from a nurse, but when I checked Find a Nurse on the College's website, it says this person is "not entitled to practise" because they are in the Non-Practising Class. Can I hire this nurse?
No, you cannot hire this individual for a position that involves nursing practice (such as the performance of the controlled acts authorized to nurses) or one in which the person would be portraying her/himself as entitled to practise nursing. It is your decision whether to hire this person for a position that does not involve nursing practice. Members of the Non-Practising Class are prohibited from practising nursing in either a paid or volunteer position in Ontario.