Our History

Who We Are

The College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia (CRPNBC) is the regulatory body for all registered psychiatric nurses in the province. Everyone wishing to practice as a “registered psychiatric nurse (RPN)” in British Columbia must be a member of the College.

Where We Came From

In 1947 a very small group of graduate psychiatric nurses met to discuss and plan the formation of a professional organization which was called the B.C. Psychiatric Nurses Association. The stated aims and objectives were:

  1. to promote, improve and maintain an enlightened and progressive standard of psychiatric nursing and to develop an active public interest in the treatment and care of the mentally ill.
  2. to work in cooperation with any approved group in the promotion of good mental health and prevention of mental illness and improvement in the standard of patient care.
  3. to further the training and opportunity for specialization for psychiatric nursing personnel.
  4. to encourage uniform training programs of the highest possible standard,for the purposes of providing the psychiatric hospitals, schools for the mentally retarded, geriatric hospitals and public demand, with well qualified psychiatric nurses.
  5. to gain professional recognition by the public, medical and government authorities. The Association was registered under the Societies Act.

In 1950, draft legislation was developed with the resulting Psychiatric Nurses Act of British Columbia being proclaimed in 1951. In 1964 a Secretary was hired to work for the Association, followed by an Executive Director/Registrar. In 1965 the Association became involved in wage negotiations and labour management policies which made them better able to represent the members of the Association.

In 1966 a new syllabus for R.P.N. education was presented to the B.C. government. Changes could now be made to the membership registration requirements as well as to the education of R.P.N.s. In 1968 an Act Respecting the Registered Psychiatric Nurses of British Columbia was passed. The Association was incorporated with the name Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of British Columbia (RPNABC).

By 1974 the Nurses (Psychiatric) Act was in force and provided the basis of the mandate of the RPNABC. A major internal analysis of the RPNABC was completed in 1981 and resulted in recommendations relative to the goals, objectives and tasks, the organizational structure, additional staffing requirements, the main issues facing the RPNABC, directions required and a five year plan of action. The RPNABC was rebuilt during the 1980’s as a result of this review.

During l984 further revisions to legislation, affecting the RPNABC, were submitted to the government. These changes necessitated the legal separation of the labour relations component from the professional Association and led to the creation of the Union of Psychiatric Nurses.

In 1986 the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Act and new bylaws were approved followed, in l989 by Legislative amendments to the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Act, [Section 15(3)] which gave protection to the title ‘Nurse’ to only those persons who were registered with the appropriate governing body which was a form of mandatory registration.

In 1991, the Royal Commission on Health Care and Costs (The Seaton Commission), was released with recommendations on health care services and health care providers and revisions to the RPNABC Bylaws and Rules were proclaimed. In 1993, Bill 71, the Health Professions Statutes Amendment Act, 1993, was approved by the B.C. government. Most of the provisions came into force on October 18, 1993. For each health professional regulatory body, this Act set out its duties and objects, required submission of an annua1 report, enhanced powers to investigate members and allowed for the suspension of members pending a hearing. It also had provisions making a continuing competency program mandatory. The provision for increased public membership on boards came into force in 1994.

Then, in 1999 Cabinet approved the repeal of the Nurses (Registered Psychiatric) Act and designated registered psychiatric nursing under the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Regulation as a regulated profession pursuant to the Health Professions Act.

The College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses became the regulating body for registered psychiatric nurses on April 21, 1999 under the Health Professions Act and Registered Psychiatric Nursing Regulation. The College is responsible, through self-regulation, for assuring a safe, accountable, and ethical level of psychiatric nursing practice and it is accountable to the public through government regulation under the “Registered Psychiatric Nursing Regulation” which defines the acts registrants of the College may perform. This dual level of accountability ensures the public that those individuals practicing as “RPNs” and “LGPNs” meet the basic educational and practice requirements, are “safe to practice” and subscribe to the recognized standards and ethics of the profession of psychiatric nursing in British Columbia.


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