Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics & Competencies
- Registered Psychiatric Nurses: Competency Profile for the Profession in Canada (2001)
- Competencies Expected of the Beginning Practitioner of Psychiatric Nursing (1995)
Standards for Registered Psychiatric Nurses
The development of standards for nursing practice is the first step toward the attainment of quality nursing care. The adoption of standards helps to clarify the psychiatric nurses’ areas of accountability, since the standards provide the psychiatric nurse, the employer, other professionals, clients, and the general public with a basis for evaluating practice. Standards also define the nursing profession’s accountability to the public.
In addition to the knowledge of standards, every psychiatric nurse must understand the rationale behind the standard as well as, the criteria expected and the factors against which performance is measured or evaluated.
Standards are a prerequisite to the evaluation of performance, since they provide a baseline for measurement. However, they must take into account independent, interdependent and dependent functions of psychiatric nurses, be suited to educational preparation and experience, and respect the freedom of informed choice.
Because standards must be broad enough to apply in any practice setting, the performance factors are given as basic guidelines. They may not be comprehensive for all situations and must lend themselves to further development and refinement by nurses so they are meaningful in the workplace. The psychiatric/mental health nurse’s critical thinking and fastidious use of theoretical knowledge, research, and nursing models provides a comprehensive nursing assessment and accurate client diagnosis. This allows for analysis of the reciprocal relationship between client, environment, health, and nursing.
Standards of Practice
In May 2010, the College adopted the Code of Ethics and Standards of Psychiatric Nursing Practice developed by the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Canada (RPNC). This move created national standards of practice for psychiatric nursing and harmonization across the provinces and territories that employ psychiatric nurses. In adopting the RPNC Standards of Psychiatric Nursing Practice, we moved from having ten standards of practice to four standards of practice. Although broadly stated, these four new standards encompass the ten standards of practice previously defined by the College.
The RPNC Code of Ethics and Standards of Psychiatric Nursing Practice provides a broad description of psychiatric/mental health nursing practice and an outline of the scope, functions, and roles of the practice of psychiatric/mental health nurses as well as the diverse settings in which they practice.
To assist registrants, educational institutions, and employing agencies in understanding how the standards of practice apply to daily practice, the College is in the process of developing a companion document to the Standards of Psychiatric Nursing Practice. This document will be used as interpretive guidelines that further delineate nursing practice. The original CRPNBC Standards of Practice form the foundation of the interpretive guidelines and can be used as a reference for expectations of a practicing psychiatric nurse until the interpretive guidelines have been completed.
Code of Ethics
As noted above, in May 2010 the College adopted the RPNC Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics articulates an acceptable set of behaviours for Registered Psychiatric Nurses and the principles and values that guide the profession (RPNC, 2010). The fundamental responsibility of the Registered Psychiatric Nurse is to assist clients to achieve and maintain optimal mental health, to alleviate suffering; and to promote mental health through the delivery of safe, competent, and ethical practice.
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