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An overview of RN scope

RN scope of practice

Scope of practice refers to the activities that registered nurses are educated and authorized to perform. These activities are established through the legislated definition of nursing practice and are further defined by standards, limits and conditions set by CRNBC. 

Registered nurses provide care only within the regulated scope of practice. There are two exceptions to this rule:

  1. In situations involving imminent risk of death or serious harm that arise unexpectedly and require urgent action. Registered nurses are ethically obligated to provide the best care they can, given the circumstances and their individual competence.
  2. Where a formal delegation process is in place. 
Controls on practice

 Controls on practice

There are four levels of control on registered nurses' practice:

  1. The Nurses (Registered) ​and Nurse Practitioners Regulationsets out the scope of practice in fairly broad strokes.
  2. CRNBC standards, limits and conditions complement and further define and limit the scope of practice set out in the Regulation. The standards of practice, which are established by CRNBC and provide an overall framework for the practice of nursing in B.C. They set out minimum levels of performance, requirements related to specific aspects of nurses practice and set out standards, limits and conditions related to scope of practice. Standards of Practice include Professional Standards, Scope of Practice Standards, and Practice Standards.
  3. Employer policies may restrict registered nurses’ practice in a particular organization or unit.
  4. An individual registered nurse’s competence to carry out a particular activity.

Practice activities

There are several groups of practice activities that are within the Scope of RN nursing practice.

  • Activities that are not restricted. This category comprises most of registered nurses’ practice.
  • Restricted activities that registered nurses carry out without an order. These are also referred to as section 6 activities because they are found in Section 6 of the Regulation.
  • Restricted activities that registered nurses can carry out only with an order. These are section 7 activities.
  • Section 8 of the Regulation sets out Certified Practices activities. Registered nurses cannot carry out these activities until they have been certified through an education program approved by CRNBC.
  • The scope of practice of Nurse Practitioners is set out in section 9, and includes all activities within the scope of practice of registered nurses as well as additional activities such as prescribing and ordering of certain diagnostic tests.

See the "Reflecting on scope of practice" model below

Reflecting on scope of practice

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