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​Nurse​​s with the BCCNM certified ​​practice designation have completed additional education, have specialized knowledge and skills, and are registered to practice in one or more certified practice areas.

​What will I learn?

  • What is certified practice for RPNs.
  • How does an RPN gain a certified practice designation.
  • What the scope of practice is for a certified practice nurse.
  • What areas of certified practice can an RPN practice in.​
  • What to know about certified practice and prescribing medications.

What's ​new​​​​

​On Sep. 21, 2023, the BCCNM board approved a series of new and amended standards, limits, and conditions to create a new designation of certified practice for opioid use disorder (OUD) for registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs).  Learn more »


Scope of Practice for Registered Psychiatric Nurses: Sta​ndards, Limits, Conditions

What is certified practice?

Certified practice (CP) is a term used to describe a distinct BCCNM nursing designation for RNs and RPNs. Registered psychiatric nurses who obtain the BCCNM-certified practice designation have an expanded scope of practice and are authorized to carry out activities in Section 6, 7, and 7.1 of the Regulation, if they meet BCCNM standards, limits, and conditions.

CP RPNs practice autonomously to diagnose and treat clients in the Opioid Use Disorder practice area following certified practice decision support tools (DSTs). RPNs with the certified practice designation use the title Registered Psychiatric Nurse (Certified) or RPN(C).

Being certified in the OUD certified practice area does not authorize RPNs to provide care in any of the other certified practice areas. RPN(C)s are authorized to provide care only in the OUD certified practice area.  

Differences between certified practice and the general registered psychiatric nurse designations

RPN (Certified practice)
​ RPN (general practice)
  • Diagnose and treat clients with opioid use disorder as per BCCSU DSTs. ​
  • Make a nursing diagnosis of and treat clients’ conditions within the RPN autonomous scope of practice and the nurse's individual competence.
  • Make a nursing diagnosis of and treat clients’ conditions within the RPN autonomous scope practice and the nurse's individual competence.
  • Order diagnostic tests for the client within OUD DSTs.
  • Order only diagnostic tests for communicable diseases.
  • Prescribe drugs within the OUD DSTs.
  • Cannot prescribe.
  • Use the title Registered Psychiatric Nurse (Certified) or RPN(C).
  • Use the title Registered Psychiatric Nurse​ or RPN.

To maintain the certified practice designation, CP nurses meet the Certified Practice annual quality assurance requirements.

Note that gaining certification through an association (e.g., Canadian Nursing Association) or another agency is not the same as the BCCNM certified practice designation and does not allow a nurse to practice in a certified practice area or to use the certified practice title.  

Certified practice activities​​

Certified practice activities are the restricted activities laid out in ​Limits and Conditions for Certified Practice of the RPN Scope of Practice standard. It is important to be familiar with the limits and conditions that must be met when practicing in the OUD practice area.

The DSTs mentioned earlier set the parameters for certified practice activities—only those activities included in the DSTs are authorized. Certified Practice DSTs and competencies are maintained by the Nurses and Nurse Practitioners of BC (NNPBC) and the BC Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) and can be accessed through their respective websites.


Prescribing is an activity that only nurses with the Opioid Use Disorder certified practice designation are authorized to carry out. More information on prescribing >>>

​RPN certified practice area 

Obtaining the BCCNM certified practice designation expands upon the core competencies of a nurse in the opioid use disorder practice area. It is recommended that you discuss with your workplace if you are thinking of pursuing the certified practice designation. The certified practice designation is not appropriate for those seeking to be self-employed.​

​​Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) (available to both RPNs and RNs)

RNs and RPNs who complete certification can diagnose and treat OUD, including the prescribing of controlled d​​rugs and substances.

Also, they can issue orders that non-certified practice nurses can act on to compound, dispense, and administer drugs to clients for the treatment of OUD. 

To become a Certified Practice RPN in Opioid Use Disorder, you must:

  • Successfully complete BCCNM-approved certified practice Opioid Use Disorder course and training.
  • Apply for and obtain from BCCNM the certified practice designation status in the OUD certified practice area.
  • Be recognized by your workplace as an RPN prescriber if you will be prescribing for OUD​.


BCCNM resources



External resources

​​​Need help or support?​

For further guidance on understanding and applying the standards of practice, contact our team by completing the Standards Support intake form.​​

900 – 200 Granville St
Vancouver, BC  V6C 1S4

​Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 (within Canada only) ​

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