On This Page

Information for Sponsoring Organization & Supervisor

A Supervised Practice Experience (SPE) is a self-directed option for nurses registered with the College of Nurses of Ontario (the College) in the Non-Practicing Class and who have been away from practice for more than three years but less than five years.

It involves completing a nursing practice experience to meet learning needs required to requalify for General Class registration and safely return to practice. There is no minimum number of hours required to complete the SPE as the time period is determined by the learning needs identified on an individual basis. However, nurses must complete it within a six-month period.

The sponsoring organization and the nurse’s practice experience must be based in Ontario. This enables the individual to engage in nursing practice within the Ontario context. The College also requires the sponsoring organization to submit specific information about the chosen practice setting.

When you agree to be a sponsoring organization for a nurse to complete their SPE, you will be required to assign a supervisor to the nurse. The supervisor can be an RPN, RN or NP if the supervised nurse is an RPN. However, RNs can be supervised by either an RN or NP.

Once a supervisor has been found, the nurse, sponsoring organization and supervisor must review and sign the SPE Sponsoring Organization, Nurse and Supervisor agreement form. The signed agreement form must be included in the SPE application and sent directly to the College.

Every supervised nurse participating in the SPE must:

  • be registered in the Non-Practicing Class
  • have their SPE approved by the College before commencing the experience
  • hold professional liability protection according to the College’s by-laws (By-Law 44.4)
  • practice under the supervision of a nurse in the appropriate category or class of registration (RN, RPN or NP)
  • successfully complete the SPE within six months. 

The supervised nurse may engage in practice appropriate to his or her competence, within the legislated scope of nursing practice. This includes the performance of the five controlled acts authorized to nursing. However a supervised nurse cannot: 

When you agree to be a sponsoring organization for a nurse’s supervised practice experience, you should also consider whether Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage is required, based on your organization’s policies.

How might the SPE benefit those involved?

The organization and supervisor, in collaboration with the supervised nurse, are in the best position to make the determination if the SPE is the right fit for all involved.

Below are some benefits of being involved in the SPE.

Benefits for sponsoring organizations:

  • Provides an opportunity to assess the individual as a potential or returning employee and decrease costs associated with orientation time if the individual is hired after completing the SPE
  • Enables the organization to contribute to the profession by supporting continuing-competence activities.

Benefits for supervisors:

  • Provides an opportunity for nurse supervisors to mentor and help enable a nurse to re-enter the profession
  • Enables supervisors to develop additional supervisory skills and knowledge in working with nurses returning to practice.

Benefits for nurses:

  • Provides an opportunity for nurses to gain the experience needed to re-enter the profession
  • Prepares nurses to re-enter practice
  • Enables a nursing experience that is tailored to the individual nurse’s learning needs
  • Encourages accountability, learning and self-reflection, which are essential for nursing practice.

Responsibilities of the supervised nurse, sponsoring organization and supervisor

Supervised nurse’s responsibilities

Application stage

The supervised nurse:

  • does a self-assessment to determine if SPE is the right option
  • ensures registration in the Non-Practicing Class
  • obtains professional liability protection
  • identifies and approaches a sponsoring organization in Ontario
  • submits the SPE application forms to the College
  • prepares for practice experience (reflects on learning needs and engages in preliminary activities to prepare for returning to practice)

Practice stage 

The supervised nurse:

  • practices under the supervision of a nurse in the appropriate category of registration (RN, RPN or NP)
  • uses the protected title, “RN, Non-Practicing” or “RPN, Non-Practicing” in formal documentation
  • does not supervise, monitor or direct the performance of others
  • may perform any controlled act authorized to nursing however cannot delegate or accept delegation of a controlled act.

Sponsoring organization’s responsibilities

The role of the sponsoring organization is to approve the requirements and expectations for the supervision based on the organization’s policies.

The nurse may be supervised by more than one supervisor. However, the sponsoring organization must inform the College about the primary contact.

The sponsoring organization has the right to terminate the SPE at any time (e.g., because of lack of progress or for other reasons). The sponsoring organization must notify the College immediately if the SPE agreement is terminated at any time before completion. Refer to the Reporting Guide for more information. 

The SPE is a nursing practice experience for the supervised nurse. Therefore, the sponsoring organization cannot use the supervised nurse to replace its nursing staff.

Application stage

The sponsoring organization:

  • meets with the nurse
  • identifies appropriate supervisor(s)
  • completes and signs agreement form between sponsoring organization, supervisor and nurse

Practice stage 

The sponsoring organization:

  • assigns the appropriate supervisor and arranges for orientation
  • contacts the College regarding concerns or clarifications when needed
  • reports to the College if there is reason to believe that the supervised nurse has sexually abused a client, is incompetent or incapacitated. Refer to the Reporting Guide for more information

Supervisor’s responsibilities

The role of the supervisor is pivotal to the SPE. The supervisor acts as a resource, role model, mentor/coach, and supervisor. Supervision may be provided directly or indirectly based on the needs of the supervised nurse. Indirect supervision means the supervisor is readily available for consultation but is not directly at the side of the supervised nurse.

The supervisor must:

  • hold a current RPN, RN and/or NP Certificate of Registration in the General Class or Extended Class with the College
  • have a minimum of three consecutive years of nursing practice
  • not be the subject of any investigations or have an open file with the College’s Quality Assurance Program
  • have sufficient time and resources to take on the responsibility of supervision
  • disclose to the College any pre-existing relationship (e.g., family, social/personal, business) with the supervised nurse that might interfere with their ability to objectively evaluate the supervised nurse

Please note that an RPN can be supervised by either a qualified RPN, RN or NP supervisor, whereas an RN can be supervised by a qualified RN or NP supervisor.

The supervisor:

  • ensures the nurse receives appropriate support and supervision
  • assists the nurse in identifying resources to recognize and resolve any issues
  • creates opportunities and involves the member in decision-making that impacts client care
  • reports to the College if supervisor perceives that the member is putting the client at risk

Application stage 

The supervisor:

  • reviews and signs the agreement form
  • provides information about the sponsoring organization, the client population, nursing roles and responsibilities, sponsoring organization resources and other pertinent information that will help the member return to practice

Practice stage 

The supervisor:

  • introduces the nurse to staff and orients the supervised nurse to the practice setting
  • provides orientation to the nurse about relevant policies, procedures, resource materials
  • Completes documentation according to the outcome of the SPE

Upon completion of the SPE, the nurse and the sponsoring organization must complete and then submit the following document to the College:

Sponsoring organizations and supervisors who have any questions or need more information about the Supervised Practice Experience should contact the College’s Monitoring team by phone at 416 928-0900, ext. 7683; Toll-free in Canada at 1 800 387-5526, ext. 7683; by Fax at 416 928-1914; or by email at monitoring@cnomail.org.

Also read: Information for Nurses

Page last reviewed August 13, 2020