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Update May 2023

Clarifying BCCNM prescribing, scope

BCCNM is taking steps to change the requirements for RPNs who prescribe. There has historically been some confusion around RPN prescribing, as it was permitted under the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation but the necessary supports for RPNs to prescribe, in the traditional sense, did not e​xist, e.g., training, access to prescription pads, employer supports. A registered psychiatric nurse “prescribes" within the mean​​in​g of the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation when they issue an authorization to dispense a specified medication for use by a designated individual. 

 The decision has been made to restrict RPN prescribing to certified practices nurses only. BCCNM anticipates corresponding revisions to the RPN Scope of Practice, clarifying that only certified practice nurses are allowed to prescribe, will be sent to the BCCNM board in September 2023.  

Public health emergency: RN and RPN prescribing

The Provincial Health Officer (PHO) in September 2020 issued an order temporarily authorizing RNs and RPNs to diagnose and treat a problem substance use condition or substance use disorder, as part of its response to the overdose crisis public health emergency. BCCNM in September 2020 introduced a new prescribing standard for RNs and RPNs. At the same time, the board also approved RN and RPN scope of practice limits and conditions for prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone to treat opioid use disorder.

A new certified practic​e class

In April 2023, the Ministry of Health approved amendments to the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation to create a certified practice program for RPNs for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Certified practice RPNs will be able to diagnose OUD and prescribe controlled drugs for the treatment of OUD, for which BCCNM​ has developed standards, limits and conditions. Corresponding amendments to the BCCNM bylaws were posted May 12, 2023​.

Additionally, certified practice RPNs will be able to issue orders to LPNs, RNs, and RPNs who have not received additional education and training, to compound, dispense and administer controlled drugs to treat OUD. 

RNs and RPNs who have been prescribing under the Public Health Emergency order will be transitioned to this new certified practice class once all the required elements are in place. We will be communicating directly with these registrants over the coming months​.

*Important note re: prescribing by certified practice nurses

It is imperative to note that BCCNM-approved education related to prescribing is not yet available. Organizations will need to implement processes to support RPN(C) prescribing

Prescribing for opioid use disorder

Until certified practice for OUD is ready, RPNs prescribing under the Emergency Health Order will continue as normal.