All nurses in Nova Scotia have standards that they must follow in order to be able to work in the profession. These standards set the legal and professional responsibility of nurses and outline what we should expect from any nurse in any workplace in this province. Each nursing designation (LPN, RN, NP) has standards of practice that align with each designation’s distinct and separate scope of practice.
Certain professions are granted the privilege to self-regulate because their specialized body of knowledge positions them to be most appropriate to develop standards for education and practice and to ensure these standards are met by those who work within the profession.
Self-regulation is the relative autonomy by which a profession is practised within the context of public accountability to serve and protect the public interest. The goal of self-regulation is the delivery of safe and competent services by the members of the profession based on principles that promote good practice, prevent poor practice, and intervene when practice is unacceptable. The authority to self-regulate is granted to a profession by the government through law or legislation.
In Nova Scotia, all nurses (LPNs, RNs and NPs) are self-regulated, which means they are regulated by the profession. Our practice support tools are available to help nurses understand their professional accountabilities related to self-regulation. We developed a practice guideline to help nurses understand their accountabilities related to self-regulation.
As a newly graduated nurse you must recognize the importance of identifying what you do and do not know, what your learning gaps may be and how and where to access available resources. A self-assessment process may be further enhanced by taking into consideration your employer expectations for your area of practice.
Nurses exercise professional knowledge and judgement to identify and minimize risks when engaging in nursing practice. Identifying practice as high risk does not mean you refrain from taking part in practice, but rather that you are aware of and identify ways to minimize that risk.
The professional scopes of practice for LPNs and RNs are outlined in the Nursing Act (2019). Professional scope of practice encompasses the roles, functions and accountabilities that nurses are educated and authorized to perform. Entry-to-practice education, practice experience, context of practice, and education (formal and informal) over the course of a career makes up the individual scope of practice of any given nurse. While the individual scope of practice may be narrower than that of the profession, individuals may have more specialized, in-depth knowledge and competence in a specific area of practice. The scope of employment is the description of the nurse’s role within the employment setting and is defined by the employer through job descriptions, policies, guidelines and context specific education.
Each organization within the health care community has a separate role and mandate. In our role as the regulator, NSCN cannot participate in advocacy, which includes association or union-based work with the goal to advance the interests of nurses and the profession.
The provincial government has a policy on self-regulated professions that clearly outlines the role of the regulator to serve and protect the public, which is separate and distinct from the advocacy mandate of a professional association. At NSCN, this is outlined in our legislation and in our mandate to serve and protect the public. The NSCN team connects with nurses every day to provide regulatory professional practice consultations, guidance and resources. In this work, our goal is to support nurses to deliver safe care to clients rather than advocating for changes in the workplace, environment or profession.
The Nursing Act (2019) gives authority to the Nova Scotia College of Nursing (NSCN) to regulate all nurses in Nova Scotia.
NSCN exists to:
- Serve and protect the public interest in the practice of the profession
- Preserve the integrity of the profession
- Maintain the public and registrants’ confidence in the ability of the College to regulate the profession
NSCN regulates all nurses in Nova Scotia through:
- Registration, licensing, professional conduct, and education approval processes
- Approval and promotion of a code of ethics
- Establishing and promoting standards of practice for nursing, entry-level competencies, and a continuing competence program
Nurses are eligible for registration and a practising licence in Nova Scotia once you they have passed the Canadian Practical Nurses Registration Exam (CPNRE®) for LPNs or National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®) for RNs and NSCN has received the applicable fees and documents. When registering and licensing for the first time in Nova Scotia there are different steps you need to complete depending on where you went to school.
More information on registering in Nova Scotia
Every year, all nurses in Nova Scotia are required to renew their practicing licence. This process is to ensure only nurses qualified to practise nursing are able to do so. All licences expire on October 31. Nurses can submit the licence renewal application starting August 1 and pay the fee to NSCN in order to receive a practising licence for the upcoming licensure year and be eligible to work as a nurse in Nova Scotia on and after November 1. Practicing with an expired licence may result in a professional conduct complaint.
NSCN has practice support tools to support nurses in providing safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care.
Access a variety of helpful tools such as practice guidelines, FAQs and practice scenarios
NSCN offers free, confidential advice via email or phone to help nurses, employers, health providers, the public and others understand nursing practice in Nova Scotia. In addition to one-on-one advice, NSCN also offers Advice and Education if a team could benefit from learning more about a specific area of nursing practice. For practice advice phone 902-444-6726 or email at email@example.com.
As a newly graduated nurse, you have unique needs that are different from those of experienced nurses. The support of your manager and other colleagues will help you to be successful in any designated role, including the Charge Nurse role. Supportive practice environments will ease your transition into practice and help support safe, competent, ethical and compassionate nursing care. Taking on the Charge Nurse role requires preparation, including education, mentorship, orientation and support.
Entry-level competencies describe the knowledge, skill and judgment required of beginning practitioners to provide safe, competent, compassionate and ethical care. These competencies describe what the public and employers can expect of newly graduated nurses and extend through a nurse’s career relative to their context of practice.
Continuing competence is the ongoing ability of a nurse to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills and judgment required to practise safely and ethically in a designated role and setting. The Continuing Competence Program (CCP) is a regulatory program and quality assurance mechanism supporting nurses to facilitate their continuing competence. Every nurse in Nova Scotia required to successfully complete the CCP requirements as part of their annual licensure, regardless of their employment status.
One of the ways that NSCN meets its mandate of public protection is by addressing complaints received about nursing practice and intervening when necessary. The public, nursing colleagues, employers, NSCN or any other person who has concerns regarding the conduct of a nurse can make a complaint. In addition, a nurse may self-report their own conduct to NSCN if they themselves do not think they can safely provide care to clients.
NSCN CEO Directive - Waiver of Jurisprudence Examination Registration Requirement
Effective March 29, 2023, consistent with the objects of the College and under the authority of Section 44(b) of the Nursing Act, the CEO waives the following registration requirement:
- Successful completion of the jurisprudence examination
This waiver applies to all applicants for initial registration in all designations until such time as the CEO determines otherwise. The jurisprudence examination is placed on hold pending evaluation of its use as a registration requirement.
We encourage all new license holders to be familiar with the jurisprudence information available in the following links.
LPN Jurisprudence Information
RN Jurisprudence Information
- Regulatory Policies: Jurisprudence Information: RN
- Federal Legislation: Jurisprudence Information: RN
- Provincial Legislation: Jurisprudence Information: RN