Continuing Competence Program Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about the Continuing Competence Program (CCP)? We’ve collected general frequently asked questions about the programs below. If you have a question that is specific to the LPN or RN/NP programs visit their individual page:

Why do you have a competence program?

Our Nursing Act, requires us to have a competence program and requires nurses in Nova Scotia to participate. Participation in CCP became an annual licensure requirement for RNs and NPs in 2002. The RN/NP CCP verification process was launched in 2017. LPNs were first required to participate in CCP in 2010 and the first LPN CCP audit was conducted in 2012.

Why are nurses required to participate in CCP as part of their annual licence renewal?

CCPs are considered best practice and they aren’t new or unique to nursing. Most regulated health professions in Canada have a CCP. As self-regulated professionals, nurses are accountable to maintain their competence throughout their nursing career to ensure they are prepared to provide safe and competent nursing services. CCP is one regulatory mechanism nurses use to do this. 

What will happen if I don’t participate in CCP either at renewal or during the verification/audit?

You will only qualify for a 1 time, time-limited licence for up to 3 months to give you time to complete the CCP requirements. This licence cannot be renewed or extended. If you do not complete the CCP requirements before it expires, you will not be authorized to practise nursing and can’t work as a nurse in Nova Scotia.

I have completed a CCP in another jurisdiction this year. Do I need to participate in your CCP?

Yes, however there is no need to repeat work you have already completed. Reach out to NSCN at ccp@nscn.ca to discuss your options. Whether you can use all or parts of your existing work or if you have to complete additional work, you will need to indicate on your renewal or application form that you have done so.  

Why do I have to do an annual self-reflection/assessment?

This is a process of determining your areas of strength and identifying any learning needs through self-reflection. In our evolving health-care system, nurses must continually enhance and expand their knowledge and skills to maintain the level of competence required for their role.

Why do I have to develop a learning plan?

Learning plans help individuals reflect on their practice and assess their knowledge needs against their standards of practice. Knowledge is a critical component of competence and learning plans are considered best practice as a way to develop meaningful strategies to address gaps or increase your knowledge base. Learning plans have been a part of the LPN and RN/NP CCP programs since they were first implemented in 2002 and 2010 respectively.

Will I have to develop a learning plan next year?

Yes. Each year all nurses are required to complete the components of CCP including developing a learning plan.

How will I know if I have been selected for the verification process or audit?

We’ll notify you by regular and electronic mail if you’re selected to participate in these processes. Notification letters are sent and mailed out around February 1 for LPNs and April 1 for RNs/NPs each year (we will let you know if this changes). If you’re selected, we’ll share detailed instructions about the process and the documents you are required to submit. You are obligated under the Nursing Act to ensure the College has your most up to date email and mailing address. If your contact information has changed make sure you update this information via the Registrant Portal.

How often can I be selected in the verification process or audit?

The selection process for audit is random; however, we make every attempt to minimize the duplication of participants. That said, individuals who fail to meet deadlines of the verification process or audit may be required to complete additional activities or participate more frequently. 

What happens when I submit my learning plan for the verification process or audit?

Initially we review your plan for completeness and applicability. If there is enough time, NSCN staff may reach out to you to address any gaps or issues before your plan is sent to the CCP Committee for review. If there isn’t enough time, your plan is sent to the Committee as it was received. 

The Committee will review your plan to see it if meets the requirements of the program. There are 3 possible outcomes:

  • Your plan is verified because it meets all the requirements (you will be notified by mail and no further action is required).
  • Your plan is partially verified because more information is needed (you will be notified by mail with a request to submit additional information).
  • Your plan can’t be verified because there isn’t enough information to do so (you will be notified by mail and required to submit a second plan or substantially edit your original submission).

Review the CCP instructions for your discipline for more information about the verification process or audit. Click here to review the LPN CCP instructions or click here to review the RN/NP instructions

Do the activities in my learning plan need to fall within specific dates?

Yes. You’re required to develop a plan every year you hold a license. Learning activities must correspond with the licensing year verification process or audit. If they don’t, the learning plan won’t meet the CCP requirements.

Do I submit my self-reflection/assessment with my learning plan?

No. Your self-refection/assessment is confidential and is not submitted with your learning plan.

Can any of the documents I create, such as my self-reflection/assessment or my learning plan be used in a professional conduct process?

No. 

Should I send certificates of completion or attendance with my learning plan to the College?

No. Don’t send certificates with your learning plan unless we ask you to. Keep them in your personal files at home.

I haven’t been licensed in the last 2 years. How do I complete CCP?

You will need to reflect on your past nursing practice and your anticipated learning needs for the future. When you reinstate your license, you will begin participating in CCP. You’ll be expected to have your CCP documents completed by the next registration renewal date.

I haven’t practiced nursing in the last year due to a medical leave of absence from work. Am I required to participate in CCP?

Yes. Please reach out to us at ccp@nscn.ca for support and guidance as you begin to develop your learning plan. 

I am not working as a nurse. Why do I need to participate in CCP? How do I participate if I’m not working?

If you hold a licence to practise nursing you can return to practice at any time. We need to know you have remained current in your knowledge if you are eligible to return to practice.

You can stay engaged in practice by reading nursing journals, completing online learning courses, or other continuing education opportunities. 

I’m a new graduate. Do I have to participate in CCP?

Yes. When you get your initial licensure as a nurse, you’ll begin participating in CCP. You’ll be expected to have your CCP documents completed by the next registration renewal date. 

I’m not planning to renew my licence for the upcoming year, do I need to participate in the verification process or audit? 

You may be exempt from the verification process or audit if you’re retiring from the profession. However, if you ever decide to return to practice, you’ll only qualify for a 1 time, time-limited licence for up to 3 months until you provide us with proof you’ve completed a learning plan. Please reach out to us at ccp@nscn.ca to discuss your options.

I’m retiring from my job and I’m planning to work casual after retirement. Do I need to participate in CCP?

Yes. Every nurse is required to participate in CCP if they hold a licence to practise nursing, regardless of employment status or the number of hours they work each year.

I’m going to be off for an extended period of time due to medical reasons. Am I required to participate in CCP?

These situations are assessed on an individual basis. Please reach out to us at ccp@nscn.ca to discuss your case.

Why do you have a verification process or audit?

The purpose of the verification process or audit is to ensure nurses are participating in CCP as required. Every year in the spring, nurses are randomly selected and required to submit their learning plans to the CCP Committee for review. The verification process or audit is another way the College meets its mandate of public safety.

Have I been selected to participate in the verification process or audit because there are concerns about my practice?

No. The audit sample is randomly generated by a computer program.

The CCP Committee directed me to substantially revise my learning plan and I need help! What should I do?

We’re here to help. Start by reviewing the feedback provided and the required learning plan criteria. Identify which criteria you didn’t meet and revise your plan accordingly. If you still need help, please reach out to us at ccp@nscn.ca

Is mandatory education a requirement of CCP every year?

No. Mandatory education isn’t a requirement of CCP every year. We’ll notify you well in advance when mandatory education is required. There is no mandatory requirement at this time.

What is a 1 time, time-limited licence? 

You received a time limited licence because you either didn’t indicate on your renewal form that you developed a learning plan for the upcoming year or you didn’t submit your learning plan to the CCP Committee as requested. There’s no restriction on your practice; however, the licence will expire either after the 3-month expiry date or the last day of the licensure year. 

Can I get a second time limited licence?

No. This license can’t be extended or re-issued.

Can I work with an expired licence?

No. Doing so may be considered professional misconduct.

How do I get a full-year active licence? 

You must provide us with proof that you completed all the requirements of CCP.