Skip to main content


BCCNM acknowledges that it is an unprecedented time in health care, and we are grateful for the important role nurses and midwives play during this time across the system. We know you are being asked to do more than ever before and expected to work in different ways. You have shown great compassion and dedication to your clients and their families every day. We understand that you are stressed and concerned about being able to maintain standards of nursing and midwifery practice.

It’s important to remember that even in situations where you cannot provide optimal client care due to circumstances beyond your control (such as working with limited resources, increased workload or working in an unfamiliar area), you can still meet the Standards of Practice.

Nurses and midwives are responsible for providing the best care possible under the circumstances, setting priorities, using critical thinking and professional judgment, communicating with their employer and participating in efforts to improve client care. During this uncertain time remember that you are expected to follow your employer’s organization policies and procedures and seek out any pandemic resources they may have available.

We've heard from registrants worried that a complaint may be brought against them for circumstances out of their control during the pandemic. Remember that complaints are not uncommon; some professionals need to address complaints in the course of their career. Each complaint is carefully assessed within the context of the practice environment. We encourage you to visit our complaints section to learn more about the process.

BCCNM recognizes your efforts and challenges in working in a pandemic. If you need more information or wish to speak with someone about a practice concern, please contact one of our Regulatory Practice Consultants.

  • Email
  • 604.742.6200 x8803 (Metro Vancouver)
  • Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 x8803 (within Canada only)



What additional education do I need in order to give the COVID-19 vaccine?

For nurses who will be administering only the COVID-19 vaccine, the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) is providing a condensed immunization competency education process. Please visit the BCCDC website for details.

 Duty to provide care

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my employer has asked me to work in an unfamiliar area. Can I refuse to work in that area?

Nurses work in the best interests of their clients to set priorities, use critical thinking skills and apply professional judgement in these circumstances. Nurses seek out credible sources of information and follow best practice guidelines to provide nursing services and minimize the risk of disease transmission to themselves, their clients and others.

If you have concerns about your personal safety or your competence to work in a particular area, collaborate with your employer to ensure you’re providing safe care and meeting all relevant standards of practice. The Duty to Provide Care Practice Standard provides further guidance and information to support your decision-making. You can also refer to this April 7, 2020, letter from the provincial nursing leads that references working in unfamiliar areas.

Self-employed nurses may need to consider their options in meeting client care needs. Proactive communication and a collaborative approach with clients and their families can help ensure client care needs are met.

The following BCCNM resources will assist you in your decision-making.

​​I am concerned that my employer is running out of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) for me to do my job. Can I refuse to care for those patients without having the right PPE?

Nurses seek out credible sources of information and follow best practice guidelines to provide nursing services and minimize the risk of disease transmission to themselves, their clients and others. We acknowledge this is an unprecedented time in health care and we recognize your efforts.

Nurses use their clinical judgement, follow employer policies and procedures in assessing the appropriate need for PPE, as not every client care situation may require specific equipment.

The BC Centre for Disease Control provides specific guidelines on PPE use for Covid-19 via the BCCDC Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidelines.

If you have concerns about your personal safety this is an important time for you to be proactive, to collaborate, and communicate your concerns to your employer. The Duty to Provide Care Practice Standard provides further guidance and information to support your decision-making in order to provide the safest possible care as well as addressing your own safety and personal circumstances.

It is important for you to remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly evolving. During these unprecedented times nurses must prepare to adapt quickly to a rapidly changing practice environment. You can also refer to recent Ministry of Health guidelines on use of masks in health care facilities.

Related resources

You can also contact BCCNM Regulatory Practice Consultation

 Scope of practice

Can RNs collect nasopharyngeal and throat swabs for COVID-19 in any setting?

​Yes, RNs can collect nasopharyngeal or throat swabs for COVID- 19 in any settings if they have the acquired competence and employer support.

RNs can collect nasopharyngeal or throat swabs for an appropriate client:

  • autonomously, or
  • with a client-specific order. 

Nurses who have questions about this should contact their employer or local medical health officer.​

The BCCDC is providing guidance on lab testing.

 Student nurses

I’m a nursing student and I want to know how I can help during the pandemic?

As a nursing student, you may participate in formal learning experiences that your school has organized for you as a part of your nursing education program. However, outside of your formal nursing program you can only help as a volunteer. You are not able to help in a nursing capacity unless you hold Employed Student Nurse (ESN) registration. Visit BC211 to register as a volunteer.

If I am working as an ESN can I be reassigned or redeployed to another practice area?

​Yes, you can be redeployed—in non-pandemic times, ESNs are authorized to work at a specific location/facility (usually a hospital site). Employers may reassign an ESN to a different unit within the same facility. Remember, ESNs can only perform activities for which they have gained competence in their nursing education program. 

Refer to the Employed Student Registrants practice standard.

During the pandemic, ESNs are being authorized to practice under a specific health authority, so that the employer can have flexibility in deploying ESNs where most needed.

If I have ESN registration and I want to apply for Provisional Registration, can I have both?

​No, and in fact  it is not possible to have both at the same time. ESN registration is held while you are a student and up to 30 days after your program completion.

If you're a student with ESN registration who is graduating shortly, you can apply for provisional registration when you submit your BC Grad application. Once you have completed your program, your school will send BCCNM verification of program completion and BCCNM will review your eligibility for provisional RN registration.

Email you have questions.

 Nurses who are self-employed or in private practice

I'm a nurse who is self-employed or in private practice. When and how can I resume in-person care?

The Provincial Health Officer has indicated that registrants can deliver in-person care in a way that promotes safe care to clients and continues to prevent the spread of the virus. Read the detailed direction and recommendations for providing in-person community care.

We encourage nurses to review the expectations from the Provincial Health Officer and the BCCNM practice standard Duty to Provide Care to determine how to proceed in their decision-making.

BCCNM resources


If you have questions after reviewing the above documents, you can contact Regulatory Practice Consultation

 Privacy & confidentiality

I’m seeing a lot of social media posts from nurses on COVID-19 including sharing positive patient test results and concerns around social distancing. What should nurses consider before posting anything, including about COVID-19, to social media?

While there are many benefits to social media both for personal and professional use, nurses must be aware of the many risks, such as breach of privacy and confidentiality as well as providing false or inaccurate information. Nurses must use social media responsibly at all times.

Nurses need to consider the following when interacting via social media:

  • Nurses are expected to uphold the BCCNM Standards of Practice at all times and in all settings, including on social media platforms.
  • Before posting or commenting – first and foremost, nurses should reflect on why they are sharing information via social media. They should use their professional judgement and keep their obligations to clients, colleagues and employers at forefront.
  • Registrants who identify themselves as a nurse on social media have a professional responsibility to maintain professional conduct even if posts are made while off duty.  Social media posts have the potential to negatively impact both the public's perception of nurses and trust in the nursing profession as a whole and could be considered "unprofessional conduct" under the Health Professions Act.
  • Nurses maintain the privacy and confidentiality of their clients or any other clients at all times.
  • Nurses do not share any information about clients on social media, such as posting information about a colleague who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Nurses must be aware of and follow their employer policies on privacy and confidentiality including those guiding the use of social media.
  • Nurses work  collaboratively when  addressing their concerns about COVID-19.

The following BCCNM Resources may be helpful to nurses during this challenging time.


Regulatory practice consultation is available by