January 2017

Regulation changes affect entry exams and declaration of nursing practice

On Dec. 21, 2016, the Ontario government released changes to the registration regulation under the Nursing Act, 1991.

Now, RN applicants have no limit to the number of times they can write the entry-to-practice exam, NCLEX-RN. 

Also, members no longer have to have practised nursing in Ontario during the past three years to renew their memberships in the General or Extended classes.

Earlier in 2016, the College’s Council proposed to government these and other registration regulation changes. In developing the proposed changes, Council considered several factors, including the effect of changes on public safety, the current regulatory environment and feedback from public consultation. 

Applicants: No limit to NCLEX-RN exam writes

The revised regulation gives the College’s Council the authority to determine the number of attempts a writer can make on any entry-to-practice exam before passing. With this regulation change, Council decided to remove the three-time write limit on the NCLEX-RN. The College implemented this change on Jan. 4, 2017.

Council decided to change the number of times an applicant can write the NCLEX-RN because the exam is developed and administered differently than the other exams. It is a computer-adaptive test that determines the level of difficulty of its questions based on the writer’s previous response. Therefore, each writer receives a different set of questions to answer. As well, the NCLEX-RN system knows when someone is rewriting the exam and generates a new set of questions. Regardless of the number of attempts, the only way a person will pass the exam is if they show they have the competence to practise safely as an entry-level RN.

For all other entry exams, the College will continue to limit applicants to three attempts because, unlike the NCLEX-RN, those exams are composed of standard questions that all applicants must answer. As a result, a writer’s familiarity with the exam content increases with each attempt.

For more information, read Q&As about the NCLEX-RN for exam writers.

Members: Declaration of practice

When renewing their membership with the College, nurses can now declare any nursing practice – in or outside Ontario – within the past three years. This is because the revised regulation no longer specifies that nurses must have practised in Ontario.

Those who haven’t practised nursing in the past three years will be required to join the Non-Practising class or resign. The College implemented this change for the 2017 renewal cycle, which started in the fall 2016.

For more information, read declaration of practice FAQs.

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