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Journey to RN prescribing

Currently, RNs do not have the authority to prescribe medications. We are working toward enabling this change in RNs' scope of practice.

CNO is your primary source for timely and accurate information about RN prescribing.

On May 17, 2017, the Ontario government changed the Nursing Act to permit RNs to prescribe medication and to communicate diagnoses for the purpose of prescribing medication. The changes were made to improve patient access to care. Government asked CNO to do the necessary regulatory work that will allow RNs to prescribe medication to treat "non-complex" health conditions and to "communicate a diagnosis for the purpose of prescribing those medications."

CNO completed rigorous research and stakeholder engagement  including the public, nurses, employers, and others  to help us develop competencies, standards and regulation requirements. Council approved these changes to regulation in March 2019, but they are not in effect.

CNO’s vision is that RN prescribing will be safe for the people of Ontario. Diagnosing and prescribing are high-risk activities; CNO is accountable for providing proper regulatory oversight that protects the public’s right to safe nursing care.

What’s next?

Government approval is required for the regulation to take effect.

We are working closely with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to promote transparent communication about when the regulation will take effect so that stakeholders can prepare for the change.

We will ensure that the public and other stakeholders know, among other things:

  • how to identify an RN who is authorized to prescribe medication
  • what to expect from an RN who is authorized to prescribe, including which client populations they treat and which medications they prescribe
  • where to go if they have concerns about an RN who is authorized to prescribe
  • how an RN who is authorized to prescribe differs from other nursing roles
Additional resources
Page last reviewed January 30, 2023