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Employed student psychiatric nurse registrants: practice responsibilities

In British Columbia, a psychiatric nursing student registered with BCCNP as an employed student psychiatric nurse (ESPN) registrant may carry out nursing activities as an ESPN registrant employed by a health authority.

The practice of ESPN registrants is one of consolidation of current learning, working within the competencies they have attained from learning activities in their educational program. The BCCNP​ RPN practice standard Appropriate ​​​​Use of Title requires ESPN registrants to use the title "Employed Student Psychiatric Nurse" (ESPN) in order to clarify to others that the student’s registration status is that of a learner and not a fully qualified professional. 

Nevertheless, ESPN registrants are at all times responsible and accountable for their practice, and all the documents referenced below are applicable to them even if the documents refer to registered psychiatric nurses and not to ESPNs. If an ESPN registrant has a practice concern, they should speak with their supervising RPN first and, if necessary, contact a BCCNP Practice Consultant at

   Employed student psychiatric nurse registrants must:

  • maintain current registration with BCCNP
  • maintain enrollment in a recognized entry-level psychiatric nursing education program
  • work only in the specific workplace they are authorized to work in
  • work under the supervision of a named registered psychiatric nurse(s) who is physically present and readily available to provide direction
  • never be solely responsible for the care of patients
  • work within the competencies they have attained from learning activities in their educational program
  • practice within their competence level and in accordance with BCCNP RPN Standards of Practice and employer policies specific to the role of the ESPN registrant
  • not supervise other workers or students

ESPN registrants have additional practice requirements, as set out in the documents below. These documents, and other helpful resources that ESPN registrants should become familiar with, can all be found in the Nursing Standards & Resources section​ of the BCCNP website.

Practice Standards Specific to Employed Psychiatric Student Nurse Registrants

The following practice standards are specific to ESPN registrants:

Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing

The Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing describe in broad terms the expected level of performance of all registered psychiatric nurses and were developed for national use by the Registered Psychiatric Nurse Regulators of Canada. To the extent they are applicable, these expectations also apply to ESPN registrants. The Professional Standards cover:

  • Standard 1: Therapeutic Relationships
  • Standard 2: Application and Integration of Theory-Based Knowledge
  • Standard 3: Professional Responsibility
  • Standard 4: Professional Ethics

Code of Ethics

The Code of Ethics are guidelines that articulate an acceptable set of behaviours for registered psychiatric nurses (and ESPN registrants). They set out a framework for professional responsibility and accountability which promote high ethical standards in practice. They uphold the following values:

  • Safe, competent and ethical practice to ensure the protection of the public
  • Respect for the inherent worth, right of choice, and dignity of persons
  • Health, mental health, and well-being
  • Quality practice

Practice Standards

Besides the two practice standards specific to psychiatric nursing students and the Appropriate Use of Title standard mentioned earlier, there are many other practice standards that pertain to ESPN registrants. Practice standards set out baseline requirements for specific aspects of psychiatric nursing practice and interact with other requirements such as the Code of Ethics, Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing, and BC​CNP bylaws.

Scope of Practice – Standards, Limits and Conditions

Scope of practice refers to the activities that RPNs are educated and authorized to perform. Limits and conditions refer to restrictions that narrow the scope of practice or place conditions before the activities within scope can be carried out. An ESPN registrant's scope of practice is limited to those nursing activities within the competencies learnt in their education programs and permitted by the employer. The Scope of ​​Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions provides more details.

Other Helpful Resources

 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)