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Professional Standards

For registered psychiatric nurses

The Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing describes, in broad terms, the expected level of performance of all registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs). These were developed for national use by the Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada and adopted by CRPNBC (now BCCNP) in March 2010. 

Professional Standards, along with the Code of Ethics, address the overarching professional requirements for all RPNs practicing in B.C. Under each standard there are a number of indicators that help determine how to meet the professional standard. The indicators are representative but not comprehensive for each standard.


Registered Psychiatric Nurses establish professional, interpersonal, and therapeutic relationships with individuals, groups, families, and communities.

A Registered Psychiatric Nurse:

  1. Acts as role model for positive professional, interpersonal, and therapeutic relationships.
  2. Uses professional judgment and practices with personal integrity to initiate, maintain, and
    terminate professional, interpersonal, and therapeutic relationships.
  3. Consistently applies processes of self-awareness within professional practice.
  4. Collaborates and advocates with individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  5. Creates therapeutic environments in diverse practice settings.
  6. Creates partnerships in professional, interpersonal, and therapeutic relationships.
  7. Recognizes and addresses power imbalances in professional, interpersonal, and therapeutic relationships.


Registered Psychiatric Nurses apply and integrate theory-based knowledge relevant to professional practice derived from psychiatric nursing education and continued life-long learning.

A Registered Psychiatric Nurse:

  1. Uses theory-based knowledge in psychiatric nursing practice.
  2. Synthesizes and applies recognized theories or frameworks to engage in innovative problem solving.
  3. Provides theoretical and/or evidence-based rationale for psychiatric nursing practice.
  4. Applies theory to psychiatric nursing decisions and interventions.
  5. Applies theory-based knowledge, skill, and judgment to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate the practice of psychiatric nursing.
  6. Applies critical thinking in the problem solving process.
  7. Applies communication theory to ensure effective verbal and written communication.
  8. Applies documentation principles to ensure effective written communication.
  9. Remains current in knowledge relevant to the professional practice setting.
  10. Engages in life-long learning.


Registered Psychiatric Nurses are accountable to the public for safe, competent, and ethical psychiatric nursing practice.

A Registered Psychiatric Nurse:

  1. Practices in accordance with the Code of Ethics, Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing,
    practice standards, and relevant legislation.
  2. Assumes responsibility and accountability for own practice.
  3. Recognizes personal and professional limitations and consults and refers appropriately.
  4. Creates and maintains professional boundaries.
  5. Integrates cultural safety into psychiatric nursing practice.
  6. Recognizes and reports unprofessional and/or unethical conduct.
  7. Assumes responsibility and accountability for continuing competence.
  8. Maintains own physical, mental and emotional fitness to practice.

Registered Psychiatric Nurses understa​nd, promote, and uphold the ethical values of the profession.

A Registered Psychiatric Nurse:

  1. Practices and conducts one’s self in a manner that reflects positively on the profession.
  2. Promotes and adheres to the professional Code of Ethics.
  3. Uses ethical principles to guide psychiatric nursing practice.
  4. Applies the elements of confidentiality and consent in psychiatric nursing practice.
  5. Recognizes the power imbalance in the therapeutic relationship and mitigates the risks of exploiting that power.
  6. Supports the rights of clients to make informed decisions.
  7. Maintains boundaries between professional and personal relationships.


Boundaries are limits that protect the space between the professional’s power and the client’s vulnerability. Boundaries define and separate professional roles from other roles. Boundaries are the limits that allow a safe
connection between a professional and a client and are always based on the client’s needs (Peterson, M. 1992).

Continuing competence
Continuing competence is the ongoing ability of an RPN to integrate and apply the knowledge, skills, judgment, and interpersonal attributes required to practice safely and ethically in a designated role and setting.

Cultural safety
Cultural safety addresses the diverse mental health needs of people living in Canada by communicating and practicing in a way that respects and takes into account the cultural, social, and political, linguistic, and spiritual realities of the people with whom one is working (Mental Health Commission of Canada, 2009).

 Need help or advice?

​For further information on the Standards of Practice or professional practice matters, contact us:

  • Email
  • 604.742.6200 x8803 (Metro Vancouver)
  • Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 x8803 (within Canada only)