Registered Psychiatric Nurses, Partnering with People

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Registered Psychiatric Nurses In Independent Practice (Exceptional Basis only)

The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan recognizes that independent practice is a legitimate sphere of practice for Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs). The Association also acknowledges that independent practitioners have a particular accountability to the public for their practice. In an effort to ensure that this responsibility is recognized, the Association has documented guidelines for members considering or pursuing independent practice as a registered psychiatric nurse.


Independent practice is the application of psychiatric nursing principles in unsupervised self-employment, either individually or within a transdisciplinary team framework. Psychiatric nursing principles are defined by the RPNAS Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. An RPN in independent practice, or working through a proprietary agency or business, is responsible to maintain the standards of practice and code of ethics of the profession.

Areas of Practice

Independent psychiatric nursing practice may take a variety of forms including but not limited to:

      1. Personal counselling and psychotherapy
      2. Education and training programs
      3. Independent consulting advice to public, private and voluntary organizations
      4. Vocational counselling, residential or day programs
      5. Social rehabilitation therapy

Regulatory Process

Protection of title, as defined in Section 22, Registered Psychiatric Nurses Act, applies to any individual using the title Registered Psychiatric Nurse, RPN, Psychiatric Nurse or PN. Individuals in independent practice are required to adhere to this requirement. Use of any word, title or designation, abbreviated or otherwise, is also prohibited which may imply that the person is a practicing member.

Training and Education

The Association promotes and encourages the following criteria in regards to training and education of Registered Psychiatric Nurses in independent practice:

      1. Education: The RPNAS believes that the diploma, as entry to practice, is the basic requirement for the beginning practitioner. The RPNAS believes that all RPNs, including beginning practitioners, are accountable for practising in a competent manner. Members engaged in independent practice must not practice beyond the scope of their competence. Irresponsible or reckless practice shall result in disciplinary action. It is expected that RPNs in independent practice will have a combination of experience and post-diploma training, relevant to the nature of their work.
      2. Experience: The RPNAS believes that clinical practice enhances the knowledge, skill and judgement of the beginning practitioner. A member who identifies themselves as an RPN in independent practice ought to have a minimum of five years full time practice in a related area.
      3. Specialist Claim: The RPNAS believes that diploma graduates possess basic knowledge of psychiatric nursing in a variety of areas. The RPNAS recognizes all RPNs as having standard critical competencies and being safe to practice at a basic level. Members identifying themselves as RPNs in independent practice and claiming specialized knowledge in specific areas of practice, beyond a basic level, are responsible for demonstrating their competency in that area. No RPN shall claim specialist skills based on attending a single lecture, demonstration, conference, panel discussion, workshop, seminar or other similar teaching presentation.

Competency and Quality of Service

  1. Continuing Education
    The RPNAS believes that Continuing Professional Development (CPD)is a critical factor for maintaining psychiatric nursing competency.
  2. Peer Supervision and Support
    The RPNAS believes that peer review and consultation strengthens psychiatric nursing practise.Case consultation, peer review and support all serves to enhance psychiatric nursing skills. Independent practitioners are responsible to ensure mechanisms are in place to support their practice.

Advertising by Members

A member in independent practice must adhere to the requirement of Bylaw XIV under the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Act. All diplomas, certificates and other relevant documents must be publicly displayed and available for inspection upon request by the RPNAS, a client or a member of the public.

Checks and Balances

A member in independent practice as an RPN is required to practice in accordance with legislative requirements, including the RPNAS Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Independent practitioners are responsible to recognize the limits to their scope of practice. These practitioners will consult and collaborate with other health care professionals. Clients will be consulted and consent obtained to work in this fashion. RPNs working in independent practice will ensure that client records are professionally maintained, safeguarding confidentiality. Clients are to be informed of record keeping systems, any alternate methods (i.e. electronic recordings) and that this information will not be released without the written consent of the client. The client is to be fully informed of any exceptions to this practice, such as sharing information with the officers and personnel of the agency who have reasonable need for the information in the performance of their duties.

Liability Protection

Licensure with the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan provides liability protection for all registered psychiatric nurses. When the insured is an employee of a hospital, nursing home or other employer and such employer has other insurance against a loss covered by this policy, the Association=s insurance shall be considered secondary and non-contributing insurance. Only after claims against the employer=s insurance have been exhausted shall the Association insurer be liable. When the insurer is self-employed then this insurance becomes primary coverage. RPNAS members who are in independent practice must identify themselves as such to the Association so they can be listed as a member receiving primary coverage. Registered Psychiatric nurses in independent practice are encouraged to seek additional primary liability protection through a private insurance agency.

Approved by Council