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RN Prescribing Practice
Registered Nurses (RNs) in Ontario have the option to expand their scope of practice under the Nursing Act, 1991, to prescribe specific medications and communicate diagnoses for the purpose of prescribing those medications.
Who can prescribe?
Prescribing is not part of entry-level RN competencies. RNs must successfully complete prescribing education approved by CNO's Council to prescribe medication and communicate diagnoses for the purposes of prescribing safely, effectively and ethically.
Once an RN completes prescribing education, information will be added to their profile on CNO’s public Register, Find a Nurse. This information confirms the RN meets all the requirements and has the authority to prescribe the specified medications outlined under the Nursing Act.
What can be prescribed?
RNs with the authority to prescribe can prescribe approved medications for the following purposes:
- Travel health
- Topical wound care
- Smoking cessation
- Anesthetics (topical only)
- Epinephrine for anaphylaxis
- Over-the-counter medication
For the list of medications authorized RNs can prescribe, click here.
How to become authorized to prescribe
RNs who wish to prescribe must complete Council approved RN prescribing education.
The school will verify with CNO that the RN has completed the program and met the requirements for prescribing. CNO will then update it’s public Register, Find a Nurse, to make it easy to identify that the RN is authorized to prescribe.
Authorized practice settings
RNs with the authority to prescribe can only do so in practice settings or facilities where RN prescribing is authorized by law and permitted by the employer. The Public Hospitals Act does not permit RNs to prescribe medications in hospital settings.
Employers are responsible for determining the roles and responsibilities of their employees, including determining whether nurses can perform certain activities and procedures in the practice setting. RNs are expected to consult with their employers to confirm that prescribing is permitted in the practice setting.
Prescribing standards of practice and resources
CNO’s new Registered Nurse (RN) Prescribing practice standard outlines the legislated scope of practice and professional accountabilities for RNs with prescribing authority.
The new practice standard expands on the accountabilities found in the Medication standard, Scope of Practice standard and the Code of Conduct. RNs are expected to practice in compliance with both legislation and CNO practice standards.
The new practice standard expands on the accountabilities found in the Code of Conduct as well as other practice standards, such as the Medication standard and Scope of Practice standard . RNs are expected to practice in compliance with both legislation and CNO practice standards. RNs are also expected to engage in daily practice reflection and actively update their knowledge and skills through quality assurance to maintain their continued competence.
Resources will also be created or updated to support the safe implementation of RN prescribing in practice.