FAQs: Non-Practising Class

The following are responses to commonly asked questions about the Non-Practising Class.

General Questions

What is the Non-Practising Class?

Membership in the Non-Practising Class gives current or former members of the College’s General or Extended classes who are not currently practising nursing the option of maintaining their registration with the College. Nurses registered in this class are still considered members of the College.

Established on January 1, 2013, the Non-Practising Class replaced the College's Retired Class, thereby enabling nurses of any age, rather than only those aged 65 or older, to maintain registration with the College while not practising nursing.

Members of this class pay a reduced fee and are not required to fulfill the same requirements to maintain their registration as nurses in the General and Extended Classes. For example, Non-Practising Class members do not participate in the Quality Assurance Program and they do not have to maintain Professional Liability Protection coverage.

What is the purpose of the Non-Practising Class?

The Non-Practising Class protects the public interest by providing members with a certificate of registration that accurately reflects their non-practice of the profession.

Each year, when nurses renew their membership, the College collects demographic data, including information about where they are working and their nursing role (if any). The Non-Practising Class allows the College to collect more accurate statistical information about Ontario's nurses.

Should I be registered in the Non-Practising Class?

If you are no longer practising, and you don’t plan to practise in the next three years, you may wish to resign or consider registration in the Non-Practising Class. You cannot practise nursing in Ontario, either paid or unpaid, when you’re in this class. For example, you can’t volunteer as a nurse. You can call yourself a nurse, but you must make it clear that you are not qualified to practise nursing in Ontario.

What is Nursing Practice?

Nursing practice is diverse and is not defined by your role, title, practice setting or a procedure or activity you may be performing. Practising nursing is not the same as being employed as a nurse. For example, if you volunteer as a nurse, you are considered to be practicing nursing. However, CNO doesn’t recognize time spent caring for a friend or family member as nursing practice. And if you have been on medical leave for three years, even if you are still employed as a nurse, you have not been practicing nursing.

Am I Practising?

Review the Evidence of practice criteria to see if you are practicing or not. If you are still unclear, reflect on the following questions.

  1. Are you registered as a nurse in the jurisdiction in which you are practising as a nurse? For example, if you are practising in Quebec, are you registered with the QIIQ?
  2. Do you have a direct or indirect effect on a client’s care? For example, a bedside nurse has a direct impact on a client’s care; a nurse at the managerial level, in leading risk management, will have an indirect impact on a client’s care. 
  3. Do you have a direct or indirect effect on health care systems? This means that while you aren’t directly providing client care, your role is impacting the health care environment, policy, resources or knowledge – all the factors contributing to a client’s care. For example, a nurse working in a risk management role in a health related organization will have an indirect impact on client care through their role informing decisions related to health care.
  4. Are you using your nursing knowledge, skill and judgment in your role? For example, a nurse who is professor in a nursing or health related program will draw on their nursing knowledge, skill and judgment when teaching students and supporting them in the provision of care.
  5. Are you conveying to the public that you are a nurse? For example, do you use the title nurse, RN or RPN as a way of demonstrating your credibility and knowledge to the public?
  6. Based on your role, title and how you present yourself, would the public expect you to use your nursing knowledge or skill in your interactions with them? For example, a nurse working for an insurance company assisting clients with health care claims. If the clients know a nurse is assisting them, they will expect the nurse to have and use relevant nursing knowledge, skill and judgment.
  7. What are your reasons for using the protected titles of Nurse, RPN, RN or NP? Is it because you wish people to know that you have that credibility, expertise, knowledge, skill or ability?
  8. Who are you telling that you are a nurse? And what do you expect them to do with this information?

If, after answering these questions, you decide you are practicing, you must:

  • register or renew in the correct practising class
  • uphold the College’s practice standards and guidelines
  • complete your annual Quality Assurance requirements
  • comply with the mandatory reporting requirements.
  • hold Professional Liability Protection (PLP)

The Nursing Act, 1991 defines the practice of nursing as:

The promotion of health and the assessment of, the provision of care for and the treatment of health conditions by supportive, preventive, therapeutic, palliative and rehabilitative means in order to attain or maintain optimal function.

Nursing practice includes both clinical and non-clinical roles. You can be practising nursing while not providing direct client care. For example, when working in education, administration, policy or research roles. Nursing is notsolely defined as a bedside role and direct client care.

To practise as a nurse in Ontario, you must be registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario. For your work outside of Ontario to be considered nursing practice, you must be registered, if required, with the nursing regulatory body or authority in the jurisdiction where you were or are currently practicing. For example, if you are using nursing practice in the Philippines as your evidence of recent practice, you must either be, or have been, registered with the Professional Regulation Commission in the Philippines at the time.

If you are currently in the Non-Practicing Class, or if your General Class registration has lapsed, you must reinstate.

Registering in the Non-Practising Class

Who is eligible to register in the Non-Practising Class?

Current or former members of the College’s General or Extended Classes can join the Non-Practising Class.  

You are not eligible to join this class if you have never been registered with the College, or if you have only been registered in the Temporary, Special Assignment, and/or Emergency Assignment classes.

How do I join the Non-Practising Class?

Nurses who meet the eligibility criteria in the previous question can request a Non-Practising Class application form by contacting the College’s Customer Service Centre. Nurses can apply to the Non-Practising Class and remain registered in this class for as long as they want.

I plan to leave nursing permanently. Do I have to join the Non-Practising Class?

No. There is no obligation to join the Non-Practising Class.

How much does it cost to join the Non-Practising Class?

Former members pay an application fee of $56.50. There is no application fee for current members. The annual renewal fee is $56.50.

Holding a Non-Practising Class Certificate

I am a member of the Non-Practising Class in Ontario, but I am registered and practising in another jurisdiction. Will this information be conveyed?

Nurses in the Non-Practising Class who are employed in another province or country will have their employer information from that jurisdiction posted in Find a Nurse, the online public register at www.cno.org. This will show that they are employed outside of Ontario.

Can I join the Non-Practising Class but still volunteer as a nurse?

No. Nurses in this class are not permitted to practise nursing in Ontario or to hold themselves out as qualified to practise as a nurse, in either a paid or volunteer capacity, in Ontario.

I hold dual membership with the College. Can I register in the Non-Practising Class in one category (e.g., as a Non-Practising Class RN) and in another class and category (e.g., as a General Class RPN)?

No. Members of the Non-Practising Class cannot practise nursing in Ontario. You cannot hold a Non-Practising Class certificate and a General Class (or an Extended, Temporary, Special Assignment or Emergency Assignment Class) certificate with the College at the same time. However, if you are registered as an RN and RPN in the General Class, you can apply to hold Non-Practising Class certificates in both categories.  

Will RNAO/RPNAO accept me as a member if I belong to the College’s Non-Practising Class?

Contact RNAO/RPNAO for information about their membership requirements.

What title can I use as a member of the Non-Practising Class?

As a member of the Non-Practising Class, you continue to be a member of the College and therefore can call yourself a nurse. You can use the titles “RN Non-Practising” or “RPN Non-Practising,” or you can use the RN or RPN title without the “Non-Practising” qualifier.

If you do not use “Non-Practising” in your title or when introducing yourself, you must make it clear that you are not qualified to practise nursing in Ontario. 

Returning to Nursing Practice

What do I have to do when I want to return to nursing practice after being in the Non-Practising Class?

Nurses registered in the Non-Practising Class who want to resume nursing practice must apply for reinstatement.

Reinstatement is a means by which former members of the College and Non-Practising Class members can re-apply for their General or Extended Class membership without having to meet all of the requirements of first-time College applicants. 

Renewal and the Non-Practising Class

I have not practised nursing within the previous three years, so I will not meet the Declaration of Practice requirement for renewal.

  1. Can I join the Non-Practising Class now or do I have to wait until renewal opens for next year?

    You do not have to wait until renewal opens. You can join the Non-Practising Class at any time of the year by requesting an application form from the College’s Customer Service Centre.

  2. If I join the Non-Practising Class now, or if I am already a member of this class, what will I have to do when renewal opens?

    When annual membership renewal opens, you will have to complete the online renewal form for Non-Practising Class members and pay the annual membership fee for Non-Practising Class members.

  3. What happens if I resign?

    If you resign, you are no longer a member of the College. This means you can no longer practise as a nurse in Ontario in either a paid or unpaid position, use any of the protected titles (nurse, Registered Nurse, Registered Practical Nurse or Nurse Practitioner), or hold yourself out to anyone as a person qualified to practise nursing in Ontario.

Page last reviewed January 30, 2019