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Fitness to practice


This webpage is a resource to help RPNs interpret and apply indicator 8 of Standard 3 of the BCCNP Professional Standards for Psychiatric Nursing, which is as follows:

“Maintains own physical, mental and emotional fitness to practice."

Why do we have this standard?

Psychiatric nursing is a r​​ewarding and challenging profession. Psychiatric nurses frequently respond to emotionally-charged and stressful situations. These experiences can negatively affect the physical, mental and emotional health of psychiatric nurses and impact their ability to provide safe, competent and ethical care. Psychiatric nurses must recognize the importance of self-care and the relationship between personal health and fitness to practice.

What does it mean to be fit to practice?

'Fitness to practice' is a measure of health and wellness as it relates to your work as an RPN. Someone who is 'fit to practice' is healthy enough to provide safe, competent and ethical care in their work as an RPN.

What does it mean for me as a practising RPN?

The indicator sets out your responsibility to:

  • Maintain your health and wellness so that you can practise psychiatric nursing safely, competently and ethically.
  • Regularly assess your own health in the context of your professional responsibilities.
  • Seek medical help, make adjustments to and/or withdraw from your regular psychiatric nursing duties if you are having health difficulties that affect your ability to provide safe, ethical and competent care.
Does this standard apply to me as a non-practising RPN?

No. This indicator only applies to RPNs who are actively practicing. As a regulator, BCCNP's interest in fitness to practice is limited to those cases where actual practice is impaired.

What if I hold practising registration status but am not currently employed or working?

We recognize that simply holding practising registration status does not necessarily mean you are actively practicing. If you are not, the indicator applies only when you go back to work or start a new psychiatric nursing role. BCCNP's interest in fitness to practice is limited to those cases where actual practice is impaired.

What can I do if I have a concern or question about my own fitness to practice?

If you are concerned that your health may be affecting your fitness to practice, and you are actively practicing, we recommend you consider taking one or more of the following actions:

  • Seek medical help.
  • Work with your employer to make any necessary adjustments to your duties so that you can continue to provide safe, ethical and competent care, or withdraw from practice to address your recovery, if safe practice is not possible at this time.
  • Consult with a trusted peer.
Does my health condition affect my registration status with BCCNP?

Generally, if you are maintaining your health and/or limiting your psychiatric nursing duties to accommodate your condition (by modifying your duties or withdrawing from them all together) so that your practice remains safe, ethical and competent, your registration status will not be affected.

In more serious cases, when BCCNP is concerned that your health may present a risk to the public, we will request that you provide information, including a medical report, to support your current fitness to practice. BCCNP ​will let you know if this applies to your particular situation.

When do I need to update BCCNP about my fitness to practice?

In general, your fitness to practice will be assumed, unless BCCNP receives information to the contrary.

However, on any change of status application, you must answer the following disclosure question:

"Are you affected by a physical or mental condition or addiction to alcohol or drugs that reasonably could impair your ability to practice psychiatric nursing?"

If you answer ‘yes’ you may need to provide further details.



Personal life choices and fitness to practice

Personal life choices and circumstances are relevant to you as an RPN. Your responsibility to maintain fitness to practice is an example of that. It is your professional responsibility to ensure that your personal life choices and circumstances do not negatively impact your fitness to practice safely, competently and ethically as an RPN.

 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)