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Independent practice/self-employment


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BCCNP uses the terms “self-employed” and “independent practice” inter-changeably to refer to RPN registrants who work for themselves, rather than for an employer, in any aspect of their practice.

Like all RPNs, self-employed RPNs are required to practice in accordance with the BCCNP RPN standards of practice, including our Practice S​tandards, Professional Standards, Scope of Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions, Code of Ethics, and College Bylaws. However, there are certain aspects of these that have particular importance for RPNs in a self-employed role, and there are additional responsibilities, requirements and guidelines that apply only to self-employed RPNs.

This page is intended as a guide to help you, as a self-employed RPN (or one considering becoming self-employed) identify your primary responsibilities so that you can ensure you practice in line with College standards and Bylaws.

We recommend that RPNs interested in self-employed practice consult a lawyer, accountant and/ or business consultant regarding contracts and business processes. ​​

 Becoming self-employed

What experience/competency do I need in order to be self-employed?

Prior to entering into self-employment, you must ensure you have the individual competence required for the services you will be providing.

All RPNs are admitted to the BCCNP register, with the same entry-level competencies, but through experience and learning opportunities you may specialize or develop expertise within specific areas of practice or with specific populations. You may wish to transfer this experience to independent practice.

You must consider the controls on nursing practice, which are defined in the Scope of Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions. You must be aware of your own competence to carry out particular activities, which reflect your level of education, knowledge, skills, experience and currency. You must also assume the responsibility of an employer both for yourself, and any others that you employ. This may involve, among other things, setting policies, adopting decision support tools (DSTs), and ensuring legislation relevant to your practice is followed.

Do I need to inform BCCNP if I'm self employed?

Yes, you must inform BCCNP as soon as you become self-employed.

​Every time you renew your registration or request a change in status you will be asked on the relevant form whether you are self-employed. If you are self-employed you must answer “yes” to this question and provide the additional information requested (your practice area and evidence of your insurance), even if you have previously informed BCCNP of your self-employment.

Can I purchase supplementary liability protection?

Registered psychiatric nurses in BC are covered by CNPS professional liability protection, which they receive as part of their BCCNP registration. Visit the professional liability protection page for more information.

For an additional fee, CNPS beneficiaries who also register for CNPS Supplementary Protection can be eligible for assistance with complaints and disciplinary proceedings before their nursing regulator. BCCNP is not involved in facilitating the purchase of supplementary protection.

Contact CNPS for more information.

 Starting a business

Can I start my own business as an RPN?

Yes. We recommend you consult a lawyer, accountant and/or business consultant before starting your own business. There are various online resources which you may find helpful, including: BC Registry Services, Canada Business: Starting a Business, and Small Business BC: Starting a Business. ​

Can I incorporate my business?

Yes. Incorporation is a business decision; therefore, we recommend that you consult a lawyer, accountant and/ or business consultant.​​

Can I use a reserved title in the name of my business?

Maybe. Under the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation, "nurse", "registered psychiatric nurse" and "psychiatric nurse" are reserved titles. Therefore, you will need to obtain consent from BCCNP to use any of these in the name of your business. Contact practice@bccnp.ca for more information.

Additional information on submitting your business name approval request can be found on the BC Registry Services website.

Can I use the BCCNP name or logo in connection with my business?

No, you may not use the BCCNP logo in connection with your business.

In addition, you may not make any other representation which would imply your self-employed practice is connected to or endorsed by the College or that you are speaking on behalf of or in any way representing BCCNP​.

What about business and service delivery plans?

It is advisable to develop business and service delivery plans, which may include (but may not be limited to):

Business management

  • Identifying resources to assist you with setting up and maintaining your business.
  • Details such as the location of your business, its contact details, and hours of operation.
  • Considering elements such as (but not limited to): business structure; registering your business; financing; business records; business insurance; Employment Standards Act; Worksafe, BC coverage; GST payments; income tax.
  • Considering how you will take payment from your clients, and developing a fee schedule.
  • Developing a plan for any unexpected termination of your business with respect to your business affairs.

Service delivery

  • A written outline of the clinical focus and scope of service(s) you will be providing.
  • ​Identifying your qualifications and experience and how these relate to your self-employment.
  • Identifying the purpose, goals and expected outcomes of your service(s).
  • Identifying how you will ensure you will meet the BCCNP RPN standards of practice (including our Practice ​Sta​ndards, Professional Standards, Scope of Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions, Code of Ethics, and College Byla​ws) in your self-employment.
  • Developing strategies for continuously evaluating your practice and service(s).
  • Developing a plan for any unexpected termination of your business with respect to your clients.

 Responsibilities and Standards of Practice

Which specific Standards of Practice apply to self-employed RPNs?

As a self-employed RPN, you are held to the same BCCNP standards as those who have an employer, including our BCCNP standards of practice (including our Practice ​Sta​ndards, Professional Standards, Scope of Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions, Code of Ethics) in your self-employment.

You must also practise according to applicable legislation including the Health Professions Act, the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Regulation, and College Byla​ws, in particular the section relating to ‘Registrant Records for Self-employed Registrants’, which must be adhered to.

Are there specific requirements around record keeping for self-employed RPNs?

Yes. As well as the Documentation and Privacy and​ Confidentiality Practice Standards you must adhere to the BCCNP Bylaws, Part VI Registrant Records for Self-employed registrants. You should also understand the content of the College Practice Support resource Retention of Health Records, which covers how long health records should be kept.

Business records should be retained as required by the Canada Revenue Agency.

 Controls on Practice and Self-Employed RPNs

How do the controls on practice impact self-employed RPNs?

As set out in the BCCNP ​Scope of Practice for RPNs: Standards, Limits and Conditions, there are four levels of control on RPN practice.

As a self-employed registrant you have an additional requirement to assume the responsibilities of the employer. This may involve, among other things, setting policies, adopting decision support tools (DSTs), and ensuring legislation relevant to your practice is followed.

 Need help or advice?

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

  • Email practice@bccnp.ca
  • 604.742.6200 x8803 (Metro Vancouver)
  • Toll-free 1.866.880.7101 x8803 (within Canada only)