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Vision for RN prescribing

Over the coming months, the College will be working towards developing the regulatory framework that will enable RNs to prescribe medication and communicate diagnoses for the purpose of prescribing.

Given that prescribing and diagnosing are areas of risk, the College is accountable for ensuring regulatory mechanisms are in place to ensure RN prescribing is safe.

 As a result, after Council discussed the risks and opportunities of RN prescribing, including the balance between reducing risk and supporting access to care, Council decided on the following vision for RN prescribing:

RN prescribing in Ontario will be safe for clients.

Council also approved the following objectives, assumptions and approach:


The public and other stakeholders will know:

  • how to identify an RN who is authorized to prescribe medication
  • what to expect from an RN prescriber
  •  how to identify the medications these RNs are authorized to prescribe
  • how an RN prescriber differs from other nursing roles
  • where to turn if they have concerns with the actions of an RN prescriber

RN prescribers will:

  • only prescribe medication after fulfilling the College’s requirements to become authorized
  • comply with requirements (e.g., laws, practice standards)
  • ensure they maintain competence in prescribing
  • understand how their role differs from other nursing roles
  • communicate their role to clients, the public and others (e.g., employers, other health professionals)
  • work collaboratively with other nurses and health professionals

Other nurses will:

  • not prescribe medication (unless they are NPs)
  • work collaboratively with, and support the integration of, RN prescribers
  • understand how an RN prescriber differs from other nursing roles

Employers (if they intend to support RN prescribing in their organizations) will provide the necessary infrastructure, including:

  • access to other health professionals (e.g., NPs, physicians, pharmacists) for consultation / mentorship purposes
  • access to resources (e.g., current evidence, clinical guidelines)
  • opportunities to maintain competence in prescribing

Note: The laws governing Ontario hospitals do not permit RNs to order treatments for patients so RNs working in hospitals will not be able to prescribe. 

  • There will be overlap and differences between the two types of nurse prescribers in Ontario - RN prescribers and NPs
  • Implementation of RN prescribing is based on current laws and evidence at the time of implementation, with an understanding that all nursing roles evolve over-time
  • Successful and safe implementation of RN prescribing requires partnership among multiple stakeholders
  • Education for RN prescribers will be available and accessible
  • The following approaches will guide the College’s implementation:
  • Focus RN prescribing with specific client populations and/or to meet specific health goals. 
  • Develop an understanding of what clients expect from an RN prescriber
  • Ensure clear communication to the public and othersabout the types of nurses regulated in Ontario
  • Focus on areas of risk associated with diagnosing and prescribing
  • Consider the evidence and Ontario's local context (e.g., government parameters, stakeholder perspectives)
  • Take a phased approach – focusing on a specific client population and evaluating before expanding to other areas
  • Implement RN prescribing as a continuing education requirement; the evidence does not support a change to include prescribing in entry-level nursing curricula at this time
  • Work closely with stakeholders to promote role clarity among various groups that have an interest in RN prescribing; develop partnerships to support safe implementation
Page last reviewed October 10, 2019