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RN Prescribing: Collaborating for success

The College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) is proactively engaging with employers to help support the implementation of Registered Nurse (RN) prescribing in practice settings across the province.  RN prescribing, which came into effect on November 6, 2023, enables qualified RNs to prescribe certain medications and communicate a diagnosis for the purpose of prescribing. 

This expanded scope of practice helps to improve accessibility to certain medications, streamlines health care delivery and empowers RNs to play a more integral role in patient treatment plans. 

As part of this journey, CNO is engaging with a diverse range of employers across the health care sector to share knowledge, address challenges and identify opportunities to help implement RN prescribing in their practice settings. 

“RN prescribing is a shared milestone for nurses, the health care sector and the public,” said Catriona Mill, Manager of Practice Quality at CNO. “Through open dialogue and partnership, we are working together with employers to further increase client accessibility to safe health care.” 

Importance of collaboration 

In sectors where laws enable RN prescribing, employers decide if this scope change will be permitted in the practice setting and ensure safe implementation of this change. This includes ensuring RNs who prescribe have access to other health professionals for consultation and mentorship, access to evidence-based decision-making supports, and ensuring appropriate workplace policies. 

Discussions with employers underscore the importance of collaboration in expanding RN prescribing in practice settings across Ontario. Central to our discussions include understanding how employers support safe nursing practice, enhancing access to care, the benefits of RN prescribing in the practice setting, supporting implementation within interdisciplinary care teams, culturally safe care and support for employers. 

“Collaborative discussions like these allow organizations to get the information they need, have their questions answered and hear what other sectors are doing,” said David Aoki, Director of Infectious Diseases and Chief Nursing Officer at the Region of Waterloo Public Health.  “This helps us with our internal assessment and determine whether to become early adopters of the change.” 

Aoki, who is also a member of CNO’s Employer Reference Groups explains, “We had discussions about the progress of RN prescribing, what the requirements were and the implications for employers. We have seen a willingness from CNO to support workplaces should they need to consult and to help guide us should we make the choice to implement RN prescribing.”  

CNO remains committed to continuing discussions with employers to ensure RN prescribing is implemented safely. Employers interested in RN prescribing can access more information, including resources on CNO’s RN Prescribing Practice web page. They can also contact CNO for support, consultation or to request a presentation. 

Stay tuned for further updates as we continue to work together with our partners in patient safety to advance this important initiative.

Page last reviewed June 10, 2024