Skip to main content

New certified practice authorizes RNs and RPNs to diagnose and treat opioid use disorder

Nov 1, 2023

Effective November 1, 2023, a new designation of certified practice allows registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) to diagnose and treat Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), including prescribing controlled drugs and substances. The new designation (CP–OUD) also allows these nurses to issue orders to non-certified practice nurses, to compound, dispense, and administer drugs and Schedule IA medications for the treatment of OUD.

The creation of this new certified practice is part of the provincial response to the ongoing overdose crisis. BCCNM is committed to our role in addressing this crisis, in part with nimble, responsive, policy. We recognize and thank our many health-care system partners for their collaboration and expertise during this complex project, in particular the BC Centre on Substance Use and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

By the numbers

  • As of August 2023, 255 RNs and RPNs from all health authorities have enrolled in training and 144 have fully completed their training.
  • In August 2023, 459 patients filled prescriptions for buprenorphine/naloxone, methadone, or slow-release oral morphine at community pharmacies within B.C., written by 48 RN or RPN prescribers.

Public health emergency: RN and RPN prescribing

On April 14, 2016, B.C.'s provincial health officer (PHO) declared a public health emergency under the Public Health Act. In July 2017, the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions was established, in part, to work in partnership to develop an immediate response to the overdose emergency.

The 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, and approved RN and RPN scope of practice limits and conditions for prescribing buprenorphine/naloxone to treat opioid use ​disorder.

A new certified practice class

In April 2023, the Ministry of Health approved amendments to the Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioners Regulation and the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Regulation to create a certified practice program for RNs and RPNs for the treatment of Opioid Use Disorder (CP–OUD).

RNs and RPNs who are currently diagnosing and treating clients with OUD under the Public Health Officer (PHO) order will have the opportunity to transition to this new certified practice designation. 

What is certified practice?

Certified practice nurses are allowed within their autonomous scope of practice to diagnose a disease, disorder, or condition and treat by prescribing, compounding, dispensing, administering, or ordering medications according to their certified practic​e designation. These nurses follow specific Decision Support Tools that set the parameters for this expanded scope of practice.

There are five areas of certified practice:

  • Remote nursing (RN Only)
  • Reproductive Health (Sexually Transmitted Infections) (RN only)
  • Reproductive Health (Contraceptive Management) (RN only)
  • RN First Call Certified (RN only)
  • Opioid Use Disorder (available to both RPNs and RNs)

​Learn more


Please email