Currency of Practice

As part of the process to become licensed in Nova Scotia, you are required to indicate that you have remained current and connected to nursing practice. This is usually demonstrated by reporting your recent nursing practice hours or the date you have completed your nursing program.

Although this is only one requirement of your application for registration and/or licensure, new registrants or those in untraditional roles, settings or circumstances often have questions about this part of their application. The information below can help you determine if you meet this requirement.

As a nurse, you must meet one of the following currency of practice options to be eligible for registration and/or licensure in Nova Scotia:

  1. Meet the minimum number of nursing practice hours:
    1. 1000 hours the last five licensure years (example: for your 2019 licence, you worked 1000 hours between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018) or
    2. 500 hours in the last licensure year (example: for your 2019 licence, you worked 500 hours between November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018).

You are required to retain a record of their nursing practice hours for the past 5 licensure years if you are an LPN. We also randomly audit a select number of LPNs to verify practice hours. 

  1. Completed all program requirements in one of the following programs in the five licensure years prior to your application (example: for your 2019 licence, you graduated between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018):
    1. Nova Scotia PN program; or
    2. Canadian PN program; or
    3. PN re-entry program; or
    4. International nursing program.
  2. Completed a Competence Assessment and successfully completed bridging education in the past 5 licensure years (example: for your 2019 licence, you completed the bridging education between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018). 

Rules for Calculating Practice Hours

There are some rules about calculating your practice hours:

  1. The hour requirements can only be met if the practice hours fall within the definition of nursing services. If you are unsure whether your position meets the definition of nursing services, you can send your job description to Doug Bungay at douglas.bungay@nscn.ca for review. Continue scrolling to the bottom of the page to read the legislated definition of nursing services.
  2. Hours accumulated during the orientation period are considered nursing practice hours and should be included in your calculations.
  3. You can only count actual hours worked as a nurse and not the hours you are paid while off on vacation, sick leave, long term sickness/injury or maternity leave.
  4. When counting your overtime hours worked, one overtime hour is only counted as one nursing practice hour, regardless of how you were paid.  
  5. Hours worked as another health care provider do not count a nursing practice hours (e.g. any CCA hours cannot count toward nursing licensure). 
  6. Hours worked in one nursing designation cannot be counted towards another nursing designation (e.g., any LPN practice hours cannot count towards RN licensure, RN practice hours cannot be counted towards NP licensure).
  7. Practice hours are calculated based on when they fall within our licensure year (between November 1 and October 31).
  8. Volunteer hours cannot be counted towards your nursing practice hour requirement.

How come volunteer hours cannot be counted?

In our role to protect the public, we have to ensure that all applicants have the minimum number of nursing practice hours in order to licence each year. In the past, information provided to NSCN about volunteer hours did not contain sufficient evidence of nursing practice such as a lack of job description, lack of connection to nursing practice, etc. As a result, we felt it was in the best interest of the public to no longer consider volunteer hours as nursing practice hours. While we understand that your volunteer hours may be different than other volunteer information that was previously brought to NSCN, the rules we enforce must be applied consistently for all applicants.

How to Change My Reported Practice Hours

  • If there is a miscalculation of your hours for the previous licensure year, you can call the NSCN office with the corrected hours. Please contact us after November 30.
  • If you are requesting to adjust your practice hours for a year other than the previous licensing year, you must have your employer submit a Verification of Hours Form directly to us at registration@nscn.ca

How to Re-Establish Currency of Practice 

As an LPN, if you do not meet one of the options listed above related to LPN currency of practice, you must re-establish your currency of practice by completing an LPN Re-Entry Program.

As a nurse, you must meet one of the following currency of practice options to be eligible for registration and/or licensure in Nova Scotia:

  1. Meet the minimum number of nursing practice hours:
    1. RN Only: 
      1. 1125 hours in the past five licensure years (example: for your 2019 licence, you worked 1125 hours between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018) or
      2. 450 hours in the last licensure year (example: for your 2019 licence, you worked 450 hours between November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018)
    2. NP Only: 600 hours in the past two licensure years as an NP (example: for your 2019 licence, you worked 600 hours between November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2018).

Note: you are required to retain a record of their nursing practice hours for the past five licensure years if you are an RN and for two years if you are an NP. 

  1. Completed all program requirements in one of the following programs in the five licensure years prior to your application (example: for your 2019 licence, you graduated between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018):
    1. Nova Scotia nursing program
    2. a Canadian nursing program
    3. a nursing re-entry program or
    4. an international nursing program
  2. If you are an NP: completed all program requirements in one of the following programs in the two licensure years prior to your licence renewal application (example: for your 2019 licence, you graduated between November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2018):
    1. Nova Scotia nurse practitioner program
    2. Canadian nurse practitioner program 
    3. an international nurse practitioner program that has been reviewed and approved by NSCN
  3. Completed a Competence Assessment:
    1. If you are an RN: a competence assessment and successfully completed bridging education in the past 5 licensure years (example: for your 2019 licence, you completed the bridging education between November 1, 2013 to October 31, 2018)
    2. If you are an NP: a competence assessment to the satisfaction of the NSCN Registration and Licensing Committee in the past 2 licensure years (example: for your 2019 licence, you completed the competence assessment requirements between November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2018).

Rules for Calculating Practice Hours

There are some rules about calculating your practice hours:

  1. The hour requirements can only be met if the practice hours fall within the definition of nursing services. If you are unsure whether your position meets the definition of nursing services, you can send your job description to Cathy Rose, NSCN Policy Consultant, at cathy.rose@nscn.ca for review. Continue scrolling to the bottom of the page to read the legislated definition of nursing services.
  2. Hours accumulated during the orientation period are considered nursing practice hours and should be included in your calculations.
  3. You can only count actual hours worked as a nurse and not the hours you are paid while off on vacation, sick leave, long term sickness/injury or maternity leave.
  4. When counting your overtime hours worked, one overtime hour is only counted as one nursing practice hour, regardless of how you were paid.  
  5. Hours worked as another health care provider do not count a nursing practice hours (e.g., any CCA hours cannot count toward nursing licensure). 
  6. Hours worked in one nursing designation cannot be counted towards another nursing designation (e.g., any LPN practice hours cannot count towards RN licensure, RN practice hours cannot be counted towards NP licensure);
  7. Practice hours are calculated based on when they fall within the NSCN licensure year (between November 1 and October 31).
  8. Volunteer hours cannot be counted towards your nursing practice hour requirement.

How come volunteer hours cannot be counted?

In our role to protect the public, we have to ensure that all applicants have the minimum number of nursing practice hours in order to licence each year. In the past, information provided to NSCN about volunteer hours did not contain sufficient evidence of nursing practice such as a lack of job description, lack of connection to nursing practice, etc. As a result, we felt it was in the best interest of the public to no longer consider volunteer hours as nursing practice hours. While we understand that your volunteer hours may be different than other volunteer information that was previously brought to NSCN, the rules we enforce must be applied consistently for all applicants.

How to Change My Reported Practice Hours

  • If there is a miscalculation of your hours for the previous licensure year, you can call our office with the corrected hours. 
  • If you are requesting to adjust your practice hours for a year other than the previous licensing year, you must have your employer submit a letter confirming your nursing practice horus directly to us at registration@nscn.ca.

How to Re-Establish Currency of Practice 

The term “nursing services” means the application of specialized and evidence-based knowledge of nursing theory, health and biological, physical, behavioural, psychosocial or sociological sciences inclusive of principles of primary health care, in a variety of roles including clinical services to clients, research, education, consultation, management, administration, regulation, policy or system development relevant to such application, and such other services, roles, functions, competencies and activities for each nursing designation that are related to and consistent with the foregoing, including those: 

  1. described in Section 174 or prescribed by the regulations
  2. taught in an approved education program
  3. authorized for practice under federal or Provincial legislation
  4. generally accepted as constituting the practice of nursing

If you have any questions, reach out to us at registration@nscn.ca. We will respond within five business days. 

Please be advised that registration requirements and fees are subject to change. All registration and licensure fees are non-refundable. Click here to learn more about fees and payment options