TORONTO — The Ontario government is making it easier and more convenient for people to connect to care by expanding the role of registered nurses to prescribe medications, after meeting specific requirements, for certain conditions such as contraception, immunizations, smoking cessation, and topical wound care in a variety of settings close to home, including long-term care homes and retirement homes.
“Our government continues to take action to ensure Ontarians have faster and easier access to the care they need, when they need it,” said Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “By making changes to allow qualified registered nurses to provide more care and administer the medications they prescribe, people will have more convenient access to safe care close to home, while helping to further reduce wait times at our community clinics and hospitals.”
Starting in January 2024, registration is expected to open for registered nurses interested in completing the additional education requirements to work more independently in their community settings. As more registered nurses complete the training, more people will have faster access to birth control, drugs for smoking cessation, and travel medications to treat and prevent malaria and traveller’s diarrhea. People will also be able to receive topical wound care and conveniently get their vaccinations such as the flu shot and COVID-19 vaccines prescribed from a registered nurse. Supporting Ontario’s highly trained registered nurses to connect people to the care they need will also give doctors and nurse practitioners more time to treat those with more complex needs.
“We are collaborating with health system partners and creating the standards that promote safe nursing practice,” said Silvie Crawford, Executive Director and CEO of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). “This includes ensuring changes in nurses’ scope of practice, including RN prescribing, are implemented safely for all Ontarians.”
The educational training programs that will be offered at certain colleges and universities are being developed and require approval from the Council of the College of Nurses of Ontario. This will ensure registered nurses can acquire the knowledge, skill and judgement needed to conveniently prescribe and administer more medications.
As part of Your Health: A Plan for Connected and Convenient Care, the Ontario government is making it easier for regulated health care professionals to work to the full extent of their training and expertise to provide patients with a more connected, convenient health care experience.
Pharmacists have been able to prescribe for common ailments since January 1, 2023.
The Ministry of Health recently invested $4.7 million to create education programs for emergency department nurses. More information can be found at the ED Nursing Education, Retention and Workforce Program web page.
Last year, the Ontario government invested over $14 million to remove financial barriers to support nearly 600 nurses to upskill their training to work in critical care areas of the hospital.
The province continues to work with the College of Nurses of Ontario to break down barriers for internationally educated nurses. The Supervised Practice Experience Partnership provides internationally educated nurses the opportunity to demonstrate their current nursing knowledge, skill and language proficiency while working to meet the requirements to enter practice as a nurse. This program has funded more than 3,100 internationally educated nurses since it launched in January 2022.
Since 2018, Ontario has registered 63,000 new nurses.
Last year, over 15,000 new nurses registered to work in the province, a record number of new nurses registered to work in the province, with another 30,000 nursing students currently studying at one of Ontario’s colleges and universities.
"RNAO welcomes with open arms RN-prescribing legislative authority. We urge government to expand its scope and move expeditiously to integrate the educational requirement into the four year baccalaureate entry to practice."
- Dr. Doris Grinspun, RN, BScN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), DHC, DHC, FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT. CEO Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario (RNAO)