For applicants | For organizationsGeneral questions


For applicants
Please review the information for applicants before reviewing the FAQs. There you will find the information you need to know about the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP) program including:
  • How to start
  • Program expectations
  • Accountabilities while in the program
  • Details on how to complete the program

How many hours do I have to practice nursing to meet the SPEP program requirement?

You must participate in the SPEP program for a minimum of 140 hours. This time may be extended, by the nurse preceptor, based on your learning needs, previous experience, knowledge and skill level. 

Is SPEP a paid program?  

The program can be paid or unpaid. Once a match is determined, the applicant and employer will discuss whether compensation is provided as part of the hiring process.

Are my learning needs reviewed and approved by the CNO to ensure they are appropriate? 

No, CNO does not assess or approve the learning needs you identify for your practice experience. Applicants are responsible for reflecting and determining their own unique learning needs based on a variety of factors, such as experience, education, practice setting, time in or away from the role, etc.

What are the eligibility requirements for the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership program?

Applicants are eligible if they meet all the registration requirements except for:

  • Evidence of Practice, or
  • Evidence of Practice and Language Proficiency 

Read the information for applicants web page to learn more about program eligibility and details.

My evidence of practice expired three years ago, am I eligible to participate in SPEP?

Individuals with expired evidence of practice may still be eligible to participate if the expiry date is no more than 5 years before applying to the program. If your evidence of practice expired more than 5 years ago, you are not eligible.

What are my options if my evidence of practice is expired more than 5 years?

CNO will notify applicants whose Evidence of Practice expired over 5 years ago about steps they need to take to move forward in the application process.

Where can I find out which registration requirements I have outstanding?

Check the Applicant Portal to see what requirements you have outstanding to determine if you are eligible.

I think I am eligible for SPEP but have not received a message from CNO, who do I contact?

CNO is reviewing eligibility on a continual basis. Eligible applicants will be notified on the portal.  Please check your registration status on the Applicant Portal.  If you’re still uncertain about your eligibility, contact us at SPE@cnomail.org

Is the SPEP program specifically for internationally educated nurses?

All applicants, including internationally educated nurses, who meet the eligibility requirements can apply to the program.

I currently have an open application with the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) and have not yet been able to apply to CNO, can I participate in the SPEP program?

No. You must have an open application with the CNO and meet the eligibility criteria before you are able to participate in the SPEP program.

Do I have to do the placement in Ontario?

Yes, the SPEP placement needs to be completed in an Ontario practice setting.  This is to ensure applicants have the knowledge, skill and judgement to practice according to Ontario laws and CNO’s standards.

What is the timeline for the whole process?

There are many factors that impact these timelines for each individual applicant. Some of these factors may include

  • The time it takes to match you with an approved organization
  • The agreed number of hours you will work per week with the approved organization. A minimum practice of 140 hours is required.
  • The time it takes for the organization to complete and submit the program completion form
  • The time it takes for CNO to review documents to ensure you have met the requirements to complete your registration in the general class

I am applying for registration as an RN and RPN. I received a message indicating that I am eligible for the SPEP program for my RN application. If I participate in the program, will this also meet my RPN evidence of practice?

Yes. If you complete an SPEP relevant to practicing as an RN, then you will meet Evidence of Practice for both.

I have received a message from CNO advising that I am eligible for the SPEP program as an RPN. However, I also have an open RN application. Am I eligible to complete the supervised practice experience for my RN application as well?

No. If you only received a SPEP eligibility message with your RPN application number, you must complete the supervised practice experience at the level of an RPN.

I am applying for registration as an RN and RPN, I received an eligibility for the SPEP program for both applications, which one should I do?

If you complete SPEP relevant to practicing as an RN, then you will meet Evidence of Practice for both.

For organizations

Are organizations expected to participate in the supervised practice experience partnership?

No, the decision of an organization to participate in SPEP is voluntary. CNO does not mandate or require organizations to participate. If your organization is interested in participating in this program, please complete the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership Form and submit it to SPE@cnomail.org. CNO will review your information and will contact you directly with the next steps.

What is the organization accountable for when the applicant has completed the SPEP placement?

The organization is accountable to complete the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership Completion FormThis form confirms the applicant has met the requirements of the SPEP program. It is the CNO’s responsibility to determine whether the applicant has met the requirements to register in the General Class.

What resources are available for organizations to support applicants?

Organizations can provide resources similar to what is given to new staff members during orientation, but this also depends on the needs of the individual applicant.

Applicants can complete their SPEP placement in a variety of practice settings. Therefore, the organization is in the best position to identify the appropriate resources to support the applicant.

If you are looking for resources to help applicants understand CNO standards and how to apply them to their practice, you may refer to CNO’s Standards & Learning page

Does CNO have specific requirements for nurse preceptors?

No, organizations are in the best position to identify appropriate preceptors to guide and support applicants during the supervised practice experience.

Is there a required applicant-to-preceptor ratio?

No, it is up to the organization to assess and determine the appropriate applicant-to-preceptor ratios to ensure patient safety. This will be determined through considering the needs of the applicant and organizational resources.  For the purposes of this program, the CNO requires a preceptor as the organization’s point of contact.

Can applicants complete their practice experience part-time?

It’s up to the organization to determine practice experience work hours with their assigned applicants. CNO requires applicants to complete a minimum of 140 hours of practice experience. This may be more depending on the applicant’s learning needs. It doesn’t matter if the practice experience is completed by working full-time or part-time hours.  

What if I have a concern about an applicant who is participating in SPEP?

If you have a concern about an applicant, you can identify this in the SPEP Completion Form or send us an email at spe@cnomail.org. Once we receive this information, we will email you a SPEP Reporting Form to provide further details of your concerns for the CNO’s review. You will also be required to submit a copy of the SPEP Assessment Form for Preceptors or your organization’s equivalent assessment document(s) along with the reporting form.  You can read more about what and when to report your concerns to CNO from our Reporting Guide (for reference only). 

CNO requires applicants to complete a minimum of 140 hours of practice experience. Is 140 hours enough to determine competence?

The SPEP placement is not intended to be a competency assessment. Applicants will have already demonstrated competence at the entry-to-practice level by meeting both the Education requirement and successfully passing their registration exam.

The purpose of the SPEP placement is for applicants to obtain their Evidence of Practice requirement. CNO identifies 140 hours as the minimum requirement for applicants to demonstrate application of practice standards and to allow for the varying individual learning needs of an Ontario, Canadian or IEN applicant. An organization can extend these hours to accommodate individual learning or organization needs.

What can I expect of these applicants once they are registered with CNO?

Once applicants complete the program and are fully registered with the CNO, the new nurse (RN or RPN) is fully accountable to the CNO. This accountability includes engaging in quality assurance activities and continuing to identify learning needs. As with any nurse entering practice, they will continue to require support and can work with the employer organization to identify opportunities to address practice competency needs.

Do participating applicants have access to controlled acts?

Yes, applicants fulfilling the requirements to become a member of a health profession have access to controlled acts  have access to controlled acts under the supervision or direction of a member of the profession. However, these applicants are prohibited from delegating controlled acts.

General questions 

How does the SPEP program help the current nursing shortage?

This new initiative safely integrates applicants into the workforce increasing health human resources. Working in partnership with approved organizations helps applicants to obtain the requirements needed to register as a practicing nurse, and organizations gain competent, qualified practicing nurses.  

Nurses are so busy, how can organizations preceptor a new hire?

We acknowledge this is a challenging time for nurses.  The program is a voluntary opportunity for organizations that are able to meet the requirements.  To protect public safety, these applicants require the support of an assigned preceptor to guide their practice experience.  The organization is in the best position to determine if they have the capacity and nursing resources to provide preceptorship before volunteering as a program partner.

Who is eligible to participate in SPEP?

The SPEP program is open to any applicant who meets eligibility criteria. CNO reviews all applicant documents based on the date of receipt and will update applicants of their status and next steps through the Applicant Portal.

What about bridging programs? Will you be increasing access to them?

CNO is responsible for monitoring, evaluating and approving entry-level nursing educational programs in Ontario to ensure graduates are prepared to practice nursing safely.  We do not have oversight of educational funding for bridging programs or increased access to them.

What is the difference between the Supervised Practice Experience (SPE) option and the Supervised Practice Experience Partnership (SPEP) program?

The Supervised Practice Experience (SPE) option and the SPEP program are different from one another.

SPE is a self-directed option designed by CNO for eligible registrants in the Non-Practising Class who have been away from practice three to eight years.

SPEP offers eligible applicants (regardless of application type) the option to complete a supervised practice placement in Ontario, giving them the opportunity to meet the evidence of practice or evidence of practice and language proficiency requirements to practice safely in today’s health system. 

The table below shows the different requirements between SPEP and SPE.

General class application

SPEP is available to eligible applicants regardless of application type. 

SPE is available to eligible applicants reinstating in the Non-Practising Class.
Non-Practising Class applicants Non-Practising Class applicants may be eligible to participate. Non-Practising Class applicants may be eligible to participate.
Practice expiry within the last five years Individuals may be eligible to participate in SPEP if their Evidence of Practice expiry date is no more than 5 years before applying to the program. Individuals may be eligible to participate in SPE if their Evidence of Practice expiry date is no more than 5 years before applying to the program.
Professional liability protection insurance is required SPEP participants are not required to obtain professional liability insurance. Individuals participating in SPE must obtain professional liability insurance prior to practicing.
Minimum number of practice hours SPEP requires a minimum of 140 hours.  SPE does not require a set number of hours.
Minimum timeframe to complete placement SPEP does not have a timeframe to complete the minimum number of hours. SPE applicants must complete their practice experience within six months of receiving approval
Ontario Health matches applicants to employers Ontario Health matches SPEP applicants with acute care,  long-term care,  home health and community care organizations . SPEP applicants’ interest in placements with CNO-approved retirement homes must self-match. SPE applicants must self-match regardless of the practice setting.
Must complete a placement in Ontario SPEP must be completed in Ontario SPE must be completed in Ontario




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Page last reviewed September 28, 2023