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Modernizing Standards

CNO is working on modernizing practice standards to reflect the evolving health care needs of patients and the dynamic nature of the nursing profession.

Refer to this page regularly to be notified about ongoing work on the Modernizing Standards project.

Why is CNO modernizing standards?

CNO’s practice standards exist to promote safe nursing practice. With constant changes to the health care needs of patients and the nursing profession, our practice standards need to be modernized to better reflect current practice realities, public expectations and societal values.

A comprehensive review to modernize standards will:

  • reduce duplication
  • address gaps in content
  • promote consistency
  • increase accessibility
  • align with CNO’s strategic plan, and
  • ensure they are contemporary and relevant to complexities and risks of nursing practice

What will modern standards look like?

Modern standards will:

  • target risk by identifying specific and relevant risks of harm
  • be evidence-informed by leveraging insights from current data from sources such as literature, jurisdictional scans and stakeholder perspectives.
  • reflect current health care needs, nursing practice, health system environment and societal values (for example, including diversity, equity and inclusion principles).
  • be consistent with legislative requirements
  • move away from detailed clinical standards
  • focus on outcome-oriented standards and principles relevant to regulation, for example medication standard with principles focusing on authority, competence and safety
  • be clear and easy to understand by nurses, employers and the public
  • be easily accessible to nurses, employers and the public by leveraging current technology

Current work

Our first priority in modernizing standards is to review and update the Code of Conduct. As CNO's central practice standard, the Code outlines the expectations of professional behaviour and conduct for all nurses regardless of their role, job description or practice setting.

The Code's update will be enhanced and expand on nurse's accountabilities. Some of these accountabilities are from current practice standards, while others will be developed based on sources of evidence. For example, providing greater clarity on nurses' professional accountabilities to provide culturally safe care that does not discriminate.

We are very excited about the progressive changes that are coming. Please stay tuned - more details to come, including the opportunity to participate in a public consultation on the updated Code of Conduct in Fall 2022.

Next steps

In 2022, we will begin robust engagement to advance our work in modernizing the Code of Conduct.

This includes outreach to nurses, the public, nursing employers, academics, unions and associations and key informants on diversity, equity and inclusion.

Resources provided to council

Additional information

CNO Strategic Plan 2021-2024 Outcomes 
The Standard – January 2021 

Page last reviewed May 27, 2021