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Transitioning into Professional Practice Toolkit

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Welcome to the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia (CRNNS) and to the practice of nursing.

Once you graduate from your university nursing program, you will be required to register and license with a regulatory nursing body in order to work as an RN in Canada. This resource will help you understand what a regulatory body does and why it exists.

Why is regulation needed in the first place?

As a registered nurse you are part of a self-regulating profession, which is a privilege that is realized by few professions. Essentially, as an individual, it means that you are regulated by your professional peers through a regulatory body, CRNNS, that is governed by the nursing profession.

CRNNS is mandated through government legislation to regulate the practice of nursing in the interest of the public. CRNNS’ Council, comprised of registered nurses and members of the public, governs CRNNS and ultimately determines how the practice of nursing is regulated and advanced in the public interest.

CRNNS establishes ethical, educational and practice standards for nursing in Nova Scotia. Offering programs, services and support for members, CRNNS also pursues policy initiatives that shape and direct nursing practice. It is also the role of CRNNS to intervene when nursing practice is unacceptable, all in the public interest.

CRNNS is committed to the promotion of excellence in nursing regulation on behalf of our members and Nova Scotians. Although we also license nurse practitioners, this resource is designed for baccalaureate nurses and we hope it will be helpful as you progress through your transition as a new graduate and wish you every success in your career as a registered nurse.

Transitioning as a new graduate

This resource explains a number of processes that will assist you in navigating the steps towards registration and licensure with CRNNS. As a new graduate, there are a number of requirements to be completed between graduation and the following licensure year. Use this resource and the outline below as a quick guide to assist you in meeting CRNNS expectations during your first year of practice in Nova Scotia:

  1. Apply for registration and licensure
  2. Study for and successfully pass the Jurisprudence examination
  3. Apply for a temporary licence (if required)
  4. Study for and successfully pass the NCLEX-RN
  5. Complete registration/licensure process with CRNNS
  6. Begin working as a registered nurse
  7. Maintain required nursing practice hours
  8. Continue to update your learning plan component of the Continuing Competence Program
  9. Reflect on ongoing competence needs and pursue additional learning
  10. Renew your licence prior to expiry date (October 31 each year)


MODULE 1: General Information

This module is designed to provide information on health care regulation in Nova Scotia and includes an overview of what CRNNS is, what a regulatory body like CRNNS does, what your obligations are as a registered nurse and where to go for more information.

Role of a College

In Canada, the nursing profession is regulated in the public interest. Nursing regulators work to ensure that Canadians who require nursing services will have safe, compassionate, competent, and ethical practitioners to provide care. Regulatory nursing organizations have been established in every province specifically to regulate the nursing profession in the public interest. In Nova Scotia the regulatory body for registered nurses is the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia.

Regulation of the nursing profession means that certain standards and rules are in place under specific legislation that governs the profession. Regulation exists to protect the public who are especially vulnerable when they are sick and unable to independently meet their own needs.

In order to start a career and continue to practice as an RN you must meet the requirements set by the government and enforced by the regulatory body. This body regulates the profession of registered nurses and improves the probability that the public will receive safe, compassionate, competent and ethical care from all registered nurses.

Regulated Health Professions in Nova Scotia

The Regulated Health Professions Network is comprised of health professionals such as physicians, physiotherapists and pharmacists, and used as a forum for communication, to share resources and expertise, collaborate on projects and identify common issues and concerns. In Nova Scotia, our health care system is continuing to move towards collaborative inter-professional care teams. These teams enable health professionals to work together in the most effective and efficient way so that they can produce the best health outcomes for clients. As a result of this collaboration, the Regulated Health Professions Network Act evolved.

The purpose of the Regulated Health Professions Network Act is to improve the system of health-profession regulation in the Province. It is intended to increase collaboration among Network members in the regulation of the health professions to support and enable an increase in inter-professional practice among the regulated health professions and strengthen the protection that regulation provides to the public. In addition the intent is also to eliminate statutory barriers to collaboration.

College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia

The College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia is the regulatory body for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) in Nova Scotia. It is responsible for protecting the public by ensuring that registered nurses and nurse practitioners practice safely, competently, compassionately, and ethically. CRNNS is a not-for profit organization that operates solely on the basis of the annual licensing fees paid by RNs and NPs. A Council sets the fee structure that permits it to manage its ongoing operations, ensure appropriate financial reserves and support regulatory and member programs.

Self-Regulation

Many systems, services, and professions serve the public interest. For example publicly funded systems include health and education; services include fire and police; and professions include engineering, law, medicine, and nursing.

Regulation is defined as the act of controlling or directing according to rule or legislation. Regulation is the process of being regulated and in Nova Scotia authoritative direction comes from the government. For example midwives are not self-regulating in Nova Scotia they are regulated by the government.

Non-regulation means individuals who are not regulated by a professional, governmental, or regulatory body. For example in health care assistive personnel such as Continuing Care Assistants are unregulated. To be unregulated means there is no legislated authority or essential regulatory components such as a set of standards, a code of ethics or a process for conduct review, however, there is use of a provincial title and completion of a standard curriculum.

Self-regulation is based on the concept that an occupational group enters into an agreement with government to formally regulate the practice of its members. Self-regulation enables government to have some control over the practice of the profession and its services but without having to maintain the expertise required to directly regulate the profession. Self regulation allows the professions, with public input, to govern themselves to benefit the community at large. In the nursing profession, self-regulation is grounded in ethics, directed by law, and guided by a set of principles. It is described as nurses governing nursing.

Self-regulation by a profession is based on the premise that those within the profession are in the best position to determine, evaluate, and enforce the standards of practice of the profession. Self-regulation is a privilege that is afforded to a number of health professions. It is important to remember that this privilege can be taken away if the public (government) loses trust in the accountability of the profession to regulate itself.

For more information on the topic of self-regulation see the resource What Self Regulation Means to You – Fact Sheet

Individual Obligations as a Registered Nurse

Registered nurses in Nova Scotia are obligated to:

  • Maintain a current licence
  • Practice within the scope of practice of the profession and within their individual scope of practice
  • Adhere to the standards for nursing practice and the CNA Code of Ethics
  • Ensure individual continuing competence
  • Practice according to the legislation and regulatory policies that apply to their practice
  • Maintain a professional presence
  • Practice within professional boundaries
  • Participate in College programs such as Continuing Competence

If at any time you have questions regarding regulation, the practice of nursing in Nova Scotia, or the contents of this resource feel free to contact College staff.

Other Nursing Organizations

As you begin professional practice as a registered nurse and throughout your career you will probably have contact with other nursing organizations such as:

You can contact the unions representing registered nurses in Nova Scotia at:

In Nova Scotia licensed practical nurses can identify themselves as nurses and describe their activities as nursing. Contact the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia for more information.

In addition, there are a number of nursing specialty interest groups such as the Nova Scotia Gerontological Nurses Association; Mental Health Nurses Association of Nova Scotia (MHNANS) and the Family Practice Nurses Association of Nova Scotia to name a few.

MODULE 2: CRNNS Structure

Legislative Authority

The authority of CRNNS is defined by legislation. The Registered Nurses Act in Nova Scotia has undergone nine revisions since the first Graduate Nurses Act in 1910, in response to increasing societal demands for accountability, transparency and openness and professional self-regulation.

In the Registered Nurses Act (2006), the objects of the College are:

In order to

  1. Serve and protect the public interest;
  2. Preserve the integrity of the nursing profession; and
  3. Maintain public confidence in the ability of the nursing profession to regulate itself,
    The College shall
  4. Regulate the practice of nursing and nurse practitioner through
    1. The registration, licensing, professional conduct and other processes set out in the Act and Regulations
    2. The approval and promotion of a code of ethics
    3. The development, approval and promotion of standards for nursing practice, standards for nurse practitioners, entry level competencies, nurses practitioner competencies and a continuing competence program;
  5. Subject to clause (d) and in the interest of the public, advance and promote the practice of nursing and the practice of a nurse practitioner;
  6. Encourage members to participate in the affairs promoting the practice of nursing and the practice of a nurse practitioner, in the best interests of the public, and
  7. Do such others lawful acts and things as are incidental to the attainment of the purpose and objects of the College.

Council

The legislation provides direction to the Council of CRNNS and staff on the core regulatory functions of CRNNS, and guidance on activities that CRNNS may undertake. The Council, CEO/Registrar and staff are empowered and obligated by legislation to fulfill CRNNS’ mandate of regulating nursing practice in the public interest. In professional self‐regulation, the regulatory body is accountable for ensuring members are competent and act in the public interest in providing the services that society has entrusted to them.

The work of CRNNS is directed by a governing body, the Council. The Council consists of 18 members who set broad policy directions for CRNNS. It is comprised of 12 registered nurses who are elected by their colleagues, and six public representatives who are appointed by Council. Council members are responsible for making decisions that best serve the public interest and improve the quality and practice of nursing care in the province of Nova Scotia. Council meets a total of five times a year which includes the annual general meeting.

Governance Structure

Governance is a term used to describe the model or process that boards or councils use to fulfill their obligation of accountability for an organization that they govern. CRNNS has adopted the Carver model of governance which provides a clear distinction between governance and management responsibilities in the organization. The policy governance model delineates the role of the Council as a policy making body determining outcomes (Ends) which are consistent with the objects as defined in the RN Act. This governance model also guides the CEO/Registrar and staff in determining the means or activities to achieve Council Ends.

Committees

The Council establishes eight legislated statutory committees. The terms of reference for these committees are derived from the RN Act and the RN Regulations. The statutory committees are:

  1. Complaints Committee
  2. Education Advisory Committee
  3. Nurse Practitioner Committee
  4. Professional Conduct Committee
  5. Registration Appeal Committee
  6. Reinstatement Committee
  7. Fitness to Practice Committee
  8. Interdisciplinary Nurse Practitioner Practice Review Committee

These committees make decisions on very specific matters related to individual members and/or programs. Read more information about Council committees.

Staff

The CEO/Registrar and a staff of approximately thirty, conduct the day-to-day work of CRNNS. This work is based on the direction of the Registered Nurses Act, the strategic directions and policies established by Council. The CEO/Registrar is accountable to the Council.

Members

In professional self‐regulation, the regulatory body is accountable for ensuring members are competent and act in the public interest in providing the services that society has entrusted to them. RNs and NPs are accountable to regulate their own practice within the context of public protection. Self-regulation is at two levels: (1) the role of the CRNNS to regulate its members through its legislated mandate and (2) through individual accountability to self-regulate their own practice.

The role of the members includes not only providing safe, competent, compassionate and ethical nursing care but also accepting accountability for doing so. This means accepting accountability for actions and decisions; practicing within the scope of practice of the profession and the individual scope of practice or sphere of competence; knowing and adhering to the Standards for Nursing Practice and Code of Ethics and maintaining continuing competence.

MODULE 3: CRNNS Services

In order to meet our mandate to regulate the practice of nursing in the public interest, CRNNS has three main programs: Continuing Competence, Regulatory Excellence, and Professional Conduct. These programs mirror the main functions of CRNNS as described in Module 2.

Continuing Competence

All individuals applying for a licence to practice nursing in Nova Scotia must meet the requirements of CRNNS’s Continuing Competence Program (CCP).

Regulatory Excellence

CRNNS has developed a Regulatory Excellence Framework to define the relationships between quality assurance, quality improvement, and risk management. CRNNS evaluates the quality initiatives across various dimensions, using formative and summative evaluation methods to ensure that these programs and services remain relevant and valued. The quality approach promotes the need for objective data to analyze and improve programs and services for example, member and public surveys and external reviews by Excellence Canada.

CRNNS implemented the Excellence Canada quality improvement program in 2003. This initiative has been the driving force behind internal workplace improvements as well as external improvements put in place over the past ten years. The Quality Council consists of a seven-member, cross-functional team whose goal is to continuously improve organizational effectiveness, employee satisfaction and provide excellent customer service. CRNNS has been acknowledged by Excellence Canada through several awards, the most recent being the Excellence Canada Order of Excellence.

CRNNS’ quality framework addresses compliance with established standards and develops systems and tools to facilitate improved practices. This has included developing a culture of continuous improvement, sharing values and beliefs and learning from situations to keep the organization on the road of continuous improvement. Quality assurance is embedded across the continuum of key functions for which CRNNS is responsible (e.g., registration and licensure, professional conduct, practice consultation, continuing competence). CRNNS is committed to constantly improve services, processes and activities in order to meet the needs of internal (staff) and external (members, public and other stakeholders) customers.

CRNNS is also committed to achieving and maintaining a healthy workplace for their employees through ongoing assessment, data collection and program planning with an emphasis on continuous growth and improvement. Our organizational approach to workplace health reflects a sustainable program of activities based on the priorities of staff and the organization.

CRNNS is using an Enterprise Risk Management Framework which gathers information on risk from all service areas to uncover risks that affect multiple service areas and address them together. Enterprise-wide risk management uses an integrated approach to assessing, monitoring, measuring and managing the array of risks confronting CRNNS.

Professional Conduct

The professional conduct process ensures that there is a fair, transparent process to receive, investigate and respond to complaints or inquiries about the conduct, capacity and/or competence of a member. The professional conduct service area provides a variety of resources to assist members of CRNNS and public in understanding the complaints and discipline process, mandatory reporting requirements and fitness to practice. Read more information about the professional conduct process.

MODULE 4: Practice Rules

Legislation

In Nova Scotia there are a number of established rules that help to govern nursing practice and guide the development of our policies, position statements and professional practice guidelines. Rules can take the form of legislation, regulations, by-laws and standards of practice. It is the RN Act approved by government and the Regulations approved by Governor–in-Council (Cabinet) that are the legislation which forms the basis for all College policies. The By-Laws approved by Council are grounded in the RN Act and also inform policies.

In addition, RNs must have a working knowledge of other provincial nursing and healthcare legislation/regulatory policies that impact their practice. All applicants applying for their initial licence in Nova Scotia are tested on their knowledge and ability to apply regulatory policies, federal and provincial legislation and provincial policies relevant to their safe, compassionate, competent and ethical nursing practice.

The Registered Nurses Act (2006)

The Registered Nurses Act sets out areas of jurisdiction/authority. It has 7 Parts:

  1. Part I addresses the objects of CRNNS and mandate of its governing Council.
  2. Part II identifies the provisions related to registration and licensing including functions of the Registration Appeal committee.
  3. Part III identifies the provisions related to professional conduct including appointment and roles of the Complaints Committee, Fitness to Practice Committee and Re-instatement Committee.
  4. Part IV identifies specific provisions related to nurse practitioners including the appointment of the Interdisciplinary NP Practice Review Committee and the Nurse Practitioner Committee.
  5. Part V describes the appointment and role of the Educational Advisory Committee for program approval of nursing education programs, nurse practitioner programs, and re-entry programs.
  6. Part VI identifies the provisions for professional incorporation.
  7. Part VII provides general information such as duty to report, fine or costs, and what the Act does not prohibit.

Registered Nurses Regulations (2009)

The Registered Nurses Regulations expand on matters set out in the RN Act and defines the “how” specified in the Act. It has 5 Parts:

  1. Part I addresses interpretation by defining commonly used terms. It clearly identifies who is to be consulted on amendments to the regulations prior to submitting to the Governor in Council.
  2. Part II identifies the register and licensing rosters, registration requirements for the various rosters and also identifies the categories of affiliation.
  3. Part III describes the provisions for maintaining records of practice hours and the audit of records.
  4. Part IV describes the functions of the Education Advisory Committee, Interdisciplinary NP Committee, and Nurse Practitioner Committee.
  5. Part V addresses professional conduct specific to the investigation and executive director disposition of complaint, the Complaints Committee disposition of complaint, settlement proposals, functions of the Fitness to Practice Committee, provisions for hearings and requirements for reinstatement.

The College By-Laws

The By-Laws define the administrative functions of CRNNS’ Council. It includes such by-laws as those pertaining to the election, composition, functions and meetings of Council including the Annual General Meeting. It also addresses electoral districts, registered nurse and nurse practitioner examinations, and Council approval of College fees.

Code of Ethics (2008)

Registered nurses must also understand their accountability for ethical relationships, responsibilities, behaviors and decision-making. CRNNS adopted the Canadian Nurses Association’s Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses (2008) and this document is a resource to nurses to be knowledgeable about what it means to practice ethically and examine ways to address ethical challenges that will arise in their practice. The Code of Ethics identifies the following seven values that are central to ethical nursing practice:

  1. Providing safe, compassionate , competent and ethical care
  2. Promoting health and well being
  3. Promoting and respecting informed decision-making
  4. Preserving dignity
  5. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality
  6. Promoting justice
  7. Being accountable.

For more resources on ethical nursing practice:

Standards

A standard is a written document directing professional practice by defining specific accountabilities and responsibilities with which a registered nurse in Nova Scotia must comply in order to adhere to legislative requirements and be consistent with the mandate of CRNNS. The practice of a registered nurse is measured against the standards; therefore adherence is expected in all cases.

A standard:

Directs professional practice

Sets out how an RN must act

Is evidence informed

Examples of CRNNS Standards include:

Policies

A policy defines the rules/principles that direct professional practice and guide decision-making. Policies are consistent with the RN Act, Regulations and By-laws and may include procedures.

A policy:

Is non-negotiable

Prescribes limits and assigns responsibilities

Is realistic and achievable

Is evidence informed

Is concise and does not include background information

Examples of CRNNS policies include:

  • Registration Policies
  • Professional Conduct Policies
  • Professional Practice Policies

Position Statements

A position statement examines a nursing, health policy or other issue that impacts CRNNS’ members, either directly or indirectly. It describes CRNNS’ stand or view on the topic and may include recommendations and/or guidelines.

A position statement:

Is consistent with CRNNS’ mission and ENDS

Is evidence informed

May include background information and rationale

May include reference and bibliography

Examples of CRNNS Position Statements include:

Professional Practice Guidelines

Professional practice guidelines are based on evidence and/or best practice. They are intended to provide guidance, instruction and direction to assist registered nurses in making informed decisions. Guidelines are recommendations for good practice; they support professional judgment and permit flexible decision-making in practice.

A guideline:

May contain principles to guide practice

May provide direction for policy development

Although not mandatory, there must be a reasonable rationale when guidelines are not followed

Examples of CRNNS Practice Guidelines include:

MODULE 5: CRNNS Resources

There are many resources available on CRNNS website including policies, position statements and professional practice guidelines. This section provides general information about a number of resources, services and sessions offered by CRNNS.

Website: www.crnns.ca

CRNNS website provides information and resources for applicants, registered nurses, the public and other stakeholders. It also provides a search function to assist in finding information, for example:

  • Canadian applicants can access current forms and information regarding the application process
  • Current members of CRNNS can obtain information and supports for their practice
  • The public can obtain information about the practice of nursing and the licensure status of Nova Scotia nurses

Licence Status Search

Information related to a member’s licensure status is available to the public on CRNNS website Licence Status Check. This information includes the nurse’s name, registration number, type of licence and any conditions and/or restrictions currently in effect on the licence.

Member Communication

CRNNS is committed to “going green”; therefore we provide nurses with electronic communication when possible. Please ensure your email address is current with CRNNS. All of our publications and resources are available on the website and include e-Learning, and newsletters. In addition, as a member of the Canadian Nurses Association, you will automatically receive the Canadian Nurse publication.

Continuing Nursing Education

CRNNS provides sessions for continuing nursing education opportunities to RNs and NPs. Recorded sessions will be available on our website for approximately a year following the live session date.

Online Learning Modules

To meet the learning needs of RNs now and in the future, CRNNS is offering alternate approaches in the delivery of educational sessions for registered nurses. One approach is to participate in electronic-based learning or e-learning. Thousands of RNs in Nova Scotia are taking advantage of this type of learning because it is available 24/7, they have an interest in the topic, and there is time to attend – whether at home or in the workplace.

CRNNS has partnered with On-Line Learning at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) in order to offer e-learning opportunities that are accessible via CRNNS website. This partnership means that e-learning opportunities can be developed for registered nurses in a format that is easy to use with technical support and facilitator availability. With this support in place, we encourage you to make e-learning your approach of choice when taking advantage of professional development through CRNNS.

Access CRNNS’ e-learning modules.

Request for Information

As a member of CRNNS information is available to you in a variety of ways. To access CRNNS documents, a good place to start is to visit CRNNS website. Here you can, download publications on a variety of topics related to professional practice, review pre-recorded continuing education sessions or participate in e-learning.

Consultation Services

Policy, Practice and Legislative Services nursing consultants are available for consultation on a daily basis to help registered nurses explore professional practice issues and concerns. This confidential service is designed to enhance and promote safe, compassionate, ethical, and competent practice.

You may wish to consult when you need assistance …

  • dealing with professional practice issues related to client care;
  • identifying necessary supports for the delivery of safe, competent, compassionate, ethical nursing care;
  • determining nursing care requirements;
  • evaluating the outcome of nursing care;
  • interpreting and applying professional legislation and College documents to nursing practice; or
  • identifying trends and issues affecting the delivery of nursing care.

You may choose to discuss your issue over the phone, via email info@crnns.ca or by requesting a face-to-face meeting with a Practice Consultant. The consultant will help you clarify elements of your situation and suggest resources that might be helpful in resolving your issue. If your issue is not within the mandate of CRNNS, the consultant will direct you to the appropriate resource.

Professional Practice Education Sessions

College staff develop and revise education sessions in an effort to meet the needs of Nova Scotia nurses and to promote excellence in nursing practice. Examples of sessions are:

  • Resolving Professional Practice Issues
  • Problematic Substance Use
  • Documentation
  • Professional Boundaries
  • Duty to Provide Care
  • Collaborative Practice

Who to Contact at CRNNS

Registration renewal
registration@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 221

Continuing Competence Program
tmacisaac@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 250

Update your information
registration@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 249

Jurisprudence
pprendergast@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 244

Complaint process/Make a complaint
mlafond@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 245

Practice consultation
jbest@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 256
or
tmacisaac@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 250

Requesting a speaker
dmartin@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 224

E-Learning
cbrown@crnns.ca
902.491.9744 ext. 226

Full Staff List

MODULE 6: Specific Requirements for New Graduates

As a new graduate who plans to register with CRNNS, there are a number of requirements for which you will need to be knowledgeable. This section will provide information on specific exams the Nova Scotia Jurisprudence Examination (NSJE) and the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN) and the types of licensure (temporary and active-practising with or without conditions and/or restrictions).

Jurisprudence Requirements

After graduating from your school of nursing, you will need to pass the NSJE and the NCLEX-RN prior to obtaining registration with CRNNS.

To write either exam you need to complete on-line applications during the time frames provided to you by CRNNS.

Although there are similarities in provincial/territorial legislation governing the practice of registered nurses and nurse practitioners, there are also differences. According to Article 706 (3 f, h) of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) each province/territory can require applicants from another province/territory to successfully complete a jurisprudence examination as a requirement of registration. Therefore, CRNNS is requiring all applicants requesting initial licensure in Nova Scotia to successfully complete a jurisprudence exam to ensure a working knowledge of provincial nursing and healthcare legislation as well as regulatory policies that impact their practice.

Temporary Licence Requirements

You can practise nursing under a temporary licence after successful completion of your nursing program and the Jurisprudence exam. This temporary licence can be issued prior to taking the NCLEX-RN or while awaiting NCLEX-RN results. However the following requirements must be met to be eligible for a temporary licence: completed application, clear Canadian Vulnerable Sector Check and International Criminal Record Check, proof of name, and fee payment. Your temporary licence will be subject to the following conditions which require that you:

  1. must have on-site access to an RN for assistance and consultation;
  2. must not assume the responsibilities of a care area (facility or unit) which would include making client assignments based on client acuity;
  3. must not perform delegated functions;
  4. must not independently initiate a care directive; and
  5. must notify the CRNNS of your NCLEX-RN exam results if you are a Canadian graduates from outside Nova Scotia.

You must also review the above information with your employer to ensure they are aware of these conditions or any additional conditions on your practice.

A temporary licence is given for a four-month period and expires on the earliest of the following dates:

  1. the expiry date of your licence;
  2. the date that another licence, other than a temporary licence, is issued to you;
  3. the date CRNNS receives notice that you failed the NCLEX-RN;
  4. the date your licence is suspended or revoked under the professional conduct process.

A temporary licence may be re-issued following a first and second time fail on the NCLEX-RN. Please contact Registration Services for more information.

Initial Registration Requirements

To obtain initial registration with CRNNS you must have:

  1. graduated from approved nursing education program;
  2. successfully completed the jurisprudence exam and NCLEX-RN;
  3. provided a Canadian Vulnerable Sector Check and International Criminal Record Check acceptable to CRNNS;
  4. not been subject to any disciplinary issues that would prohibit the practice of nursing; and
  5. completed the online application form and paid the applicable fee.

Once you register with CRNNS you will be given a unique registration number and password (your password can be changed if desired). Your name, registration number, name and location of your school of nursing, the year you graduated and date of entry in the Register will be placed on CRNNS’ Register. You will then become a member of CRNNS. You will remain a member for life and will only cease to be a member if your registration is revoked by a disciplinary committee or if you resign from the Register and receive authorization for such resignation. The fee you paid to register is a one-time fee. You will never have to pay the registration fee again.

Initial Licensure Requirements

Once you have obtained registration, you can apply for an active-practising licence. If you are not going to practice in Nova Scotia, you do not need this licence. However, if you are going to practice in Nova Scotia, an active-practising licence is required and you must be in possession of the licence prior to commencing your practice of nursing (this includes your orientation period).

To obtain an active-practising licence with CRNNS you must:

  1. have graduated from a nursing education program;
  2. not currently be under investigation by any registration or licensing authority;
  3. not be subject to any disciplinary issues that would prohibit the practice of nursing;
  4. have not been charged with, pleaded guilty to, been convicted of or found guilty of any offence that is inconsistent with proper professional behaviour of a member;
  5. have completed the requirements related to continuing competence;
  6. have provided any information required by CRNNS to establish that you have the capacity, competence, capability and character to safely and ethically practise nursing; and
  7. paid the applicable fee.

Annual Licensure Requirements

An active-practising licence must be renewed annually. The annual licensure year is from November 1 to October 31 of the following year. Members have three and a half months in which to renew their licence, from mid-July to October 31. However, you should renew prior to October 15 to ensure that your licence will be processed by October 31.

The whole application process for licensure is paperless. Members must apply on-line using their registration number and their password (registration number and password previously provided at time of registration).

Annual licensure renewal reminders are sent to all members beginning in June of each year. You must keep your contact information updated at CRNNS to ensure receipt of these reminders. You will not receive a paper licence when your active-practising licence has been processed. Instead, your name, registration number and your licence status will be posted on CRNNS’ Licence Status Check on the website, following which you will receive an e-mail notification of this posting and an official receipt.

Each time an individual applies for a licence (annual renewal or return after a period of not being licensed) CRNNS will ensure that the individual meets the requirements for licensure. Once licensed, there are some key requirements that must be met for ongoing licensure:

  1. maintaining an hourly practice requirement;
  2. ensuring appropriate professional conduct and practice; and
  3. meeting continuing competence requirements.

Maintaining an Hourly Practice Requirement

Members are required to maintain a minimum number of practice hours in order to maintain an active-practising licence (beginning five years after graduation from a nursing education program). The current practice hour requirement is 1125 practice hours within the immediately preceding five calendar years or a minimum of 450 in the previous year at the time of application.

Practice hours include hours of practice in clinical setting(s), as well as hours of practice in areas such as consultation, research, administration, education, management, regulation, policy or system development.

It is necessary to hold an active practising licence to have hours counted as practice hours. Members cannot claim volunteer hours or hours related to vacation, sick leave, statutory holidays, leaves of absence and special leaves.

Ensuring Professional Conduct and Practice

When nurses apply for an active-practising licence, CRNNS asks them for information about their conduct. This includes any disciplinary issues related to registration or licensure in another profession or in a jurisdiction outside Nova Scotia. It also includes a question regarding any criminal offences or charges. Once this information is provided , they are required to sign a declaration that verifies that the information is true.

The declaration should not be taken lightly and individuals must understand that providing false information is deemed to be professional misconduct. CRNNS considers the provided information in determining whether it has any effect on their licensure in Nova Scotia. For more information, please contact CRNNS or visit the Registration section of the website.

Meeting Continuing Competence Requirements.

All registered nurses must complete Building Your Profile to demonstrate to CRNNS that they are maintaining competence. If, at the annual licence renewal time, registered nurses indicate they have not completed the continuing competence requirement, CRNNS will issue a three-month active-practising licence. Should the continuing competence requirement not be met at the end of the three months, the licence will expire and that member will not be eligible for an active-practising licence until the member has completed the requirements.

Updating Your Personal Information

Upon registering with CRNNS, members are issued a registration number and password which will grant access to CRNNS’ Members Portal. This system can be used to renew registration between November 1 and October 31 each year. Your registration number will never change.

However Information that requires continual updating includes: any name changes, mailing addresses, email addresses, phone numbers and your personal password. To update your addresses and emails go to the portal. Any name changes cannot be completed online and requires that you contact CRNNS by phone or email.

Individuals Holding Themselves Out as Licenced Nurses

As a new graduate, you must be aware that holding a licence (temporary or active practicing) is required prior to practising as a nurse in this province. Practising without a licence contravenes the Registered Nurse Act and such individuals can be subject to actions taken by CRNNS. Nurses must annually complete their application for licensure by October 31 of each year.

The RN Act 2006 section 19 (1) states , “No person shall take or use the designation “Registered Nurse”, “RN” or “Reg. N.” in the Province, either alone or in combination with other words, letters or descriptions to imply that the person is entitled to practise as a registered nurse, unless the person is a holder of an active-practising licence or a transitional licence”.

CRNNS may receive reports that individuals who are not educated as nurses are holding themselves out as licensed registered nurses. In these situations, CRNNS has the authority to take legal action against these individuals.

MODULE 7: Opportunities for Involvement

How to get Involved with CRNNS

CRNNS encourages all registered nurses to participate in CRNNS activities. Potentially, every individual registered nurse has the knowledge and expertise that can benefit other RNs in the province and the nursing profession as a whole. This type of leadership is visible, inspires others, and supports professional nursing practice.

CRNNS is looking for RNs who are eager to learn more about CRNNS and to contribute their knowledge and expertise to CRNNS activities and initiatives. The following opportunities are available for RNs to provide input into decisions and participate in the development of resources that have an impact on RN practice:

  • Offer your name for election to Council
  • Volunteer as a member of a statutory committee (i.e., professional conduct, registration appeal)
  • Volunteer as a member of a standing or ad hoc committee (i.e., nominations committee)
  • Provide feedback on draft documents (i.e. position statements, guidelines, discussion papers)
  • Respond to surveys or requests for feedback on CRNNS initiatives
  • Attend RN focus groups
  • Participate in CRNNS education sessions
  • Contribute articles for CRNNS newsletters
  • Attend the Annual General Meeting and participate as a member of the voting body or as a scrutineer

Choose the activity and level of involvement you want based on the amount of time that works for you. Your involvement may be as brief as the amount of time it takes to respond to a survey or more extensive if you want to become a member of a committee that meets several times per year. Expenses incurred for certain CRNNS activities (e.g., attending meetings) may be reimbursed, according to CRNNS policy.

CRNNS Awards: Recognizing Excellence in Nursing

The Excellence in Nursing Award recognizes registered nurses in Nova Scotia who have demonstrated excellence in the application of the Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses and Code of Ethics, and have made outstanding contributions to the profession in one of the four domains of nursing: Clinical Practice, Research, Administration, or Education.

The Health Advocacy Award recognizes registered nurses (individually or collectively) who have demonstrated excellence in the application of the Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses and Code of Ethics, and made outstanding contributions to preserve, protect, or improve the health, safety and well-being of a group of individuals or a significant segment of our population.

Honorary Life Membership is conferred on individuals who, before exiting the nursing profession, demonstrated excellence in the application of the Standards of Practice for Registered Nurses and Code of Ethics and made outstanding contributions to nursing in Nova Scotia throughout the course of their nursing careers.

Honorary Affiliation Award, has been introduced to recognize members of the public who have rendered distinguished service or valuable assistance to the nursing profession/College of Registered Nurses. Nominees for this award cannot be, or have ever been, registered with CRNNS.

Rising Star Award recognizes individual registered nurses in Nova Scotia who have achieved a registered nurse designation within the last three years, exceeded the expectations of the nominee’s employers or colleagues,  demonstrated excellence in the application of Standards for nursing practice and Code of Ethics, and shown great potential to become an exceptional member of the nursing profession.

Staying in touch with CRNNS

The CRNNS website is a great source of information, but you can also call the provincial office at 902.491.9744 (toll-free in NS 1.800.565.9744). If you have access to a computer, you should check CRNNS website regularly for “calls for volunteers” or “requests for feedback”. You could also respond to requests to participate in various initiatives promoted in CRNNS’ newsletters and emails sent out periodically.

MODULE 8: Tips for Successful Transition

Tips to consider as you enter practice in Nova Scotia

Get informed, stay informed

  • Visit CRNNS website, learn what resources are available, and check back regularly to see what is new

Stay Connected

  • Keep in touch with colleagues, discuss professional issues, share the load and the learning

Know the limits and stay within them

  • Know the limits of your practice capability during this period of transition.

Adopt a risk management approach

  • Find a work area that will support you to progress slowly into your roles and responsibilities as a newly graduated nurse
  • Determine what level of client acuity is appropriate for you to care for during your initial transition
  • Request a predictable schedule so you can learn the practices of a consistent group of co-workers and the client population you serve
  • Don’t work overtime – or if you have to, limit the overtime shifts
  • Don’t float if you can avoid it – if you have to float, limit yourself to 2-3 units
  • Gradually and slowly advance your skills and ask your supervisors to limit the level of complexity of clients you are assigned for the first four months

Reflect on and ensure your ongoing competence through CRNNS’s Continuing Competence Program

  • Reflect on activities as they happen, formulating and documenting strategies to address learning needs is crucial.

Accept accountability

  • Gain a sense of the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities expected of a new graduate. As an independent practitioner, be responsible and proactive – for yourself, your clients, and as a member of the health care team.

Maintain Boundaries and Professionalism

  • Know your boundaries – approach your mentor, educator or manager at the next appropriate time to discuss your concerns. Understand the concept of a therapeutic relationship and the power imbalance that exists between you and your clients; manage that relationship appropriately and with utmost respect; adhere to the Standards and Code of Ethics.

When in doubt ask

  • Although you are accountable for the care you provide, you don’t have to do it all alone; stay in touch with colleagues (not just registered nurses) and link with CRNNS. You may wish to debrief with a trusted experienced colleague, nurse educator or mentor about clinical situations to gain a depth of understanding of clinical patterns and the relationships between those patterns and the judgments that arise out of them.

Setting Priorities

  • Learn how to manage your time within a gradually increased workload. You should create a workload organizational system that works for you. Your primary task as a new practitioner is to develop the capacity to set priorities and delegate.

Managing Transition

  • Be aware of transition shock and how it can impact your successful integration into the workplace
  • Remember that you need consistency, predictability, stability and familiarity to be successful
  • Get together with your nursing friends or other newly graduated nurses – you will be surprised that you are not as alone as you might feel

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