Registered Psychiatric Nurses Working with Limited Resources
The Registered Psychiatric Nurses Association of Saskatchewan (RPNAS) extends its recognition and gratitude to RPN members and all members of the health care team for your hard work and dedication during the pandemic. It has been a difficult 18 months. The challenges to provide safe care continue to grow and many are uncertain how the lack of resources will affect their professional accountability and regulatory requirements. RPNAS acknowledges the stress this place on our members.
RPNs are being asked to do more with less and work in unfamiliar areas with different team members, under changed conditions. RPNs are exhausted and worried about the ability to maintain psychiatric nursing standards, competencies and the RPNAS Code of Ethics. RPNAS understands that it is becoming difficult to provide the high-quality care you are used to providing to fulfill the unprecedented demands of the pandemic.
RPNAS recognizes that care services need to be prioritized and RPNAS encourages you to work closely as a team to provide the best care possible. To continue to provide safe services to the people of Saskatchewan, RPNs are expected to work within employer policies/procedures and seek out resources to support their safe practice. While no RPN is allowed to work outside their scope of practice, redeployment and modifications to RPN roles are within the purview of employers.
Members are identifying fears of being reported to the RPNAS for incompetent or unprofessional conduct. While RPNAS is obligated to investigate all complaints submitted, we want to assure you that a fair and unbiased review is conducted of all cases. The context of the situation is always considered when assessing an RPNs’ adherence to standards of care. We want you to know each complaint is carefully reviewed within the context of the situation.
Support for Public Health Measures
RPNAS has received inquiries about RPN responsibilities in relation to COVID-19 public health measures. As the province struggles with the 4th wave of the pandemic it is essential that RPNs are aware of professional expectations from RPNAS.
The public trusts RPNs to provide evidence-informed information especially during this time of crisis and your impact cannot be understated. Perspectives and communications coming from RPNs (both while working and through personal communications) can influence the public’s beliefs and actions. It is vital that RPNs communicate the effectiveness of vaccines, handwashing, masking and social distancing. Statements made by RPNs in public forums, including but not limited to social media, can affect the health and safety of the public. RPNs are expected to provide information informed by evidence which includes public health protection and prevention measures.
The Standards of Registered Psychiatric Nursing Practice 2019, Registered Psychiatric Nurse Entry-Level Competencies and the Code of Ethics inform members and the public of psychiatric nurses’ professional responsibilities. The Graduate Psychiatric Nurse Practice Guideline is another resource for those who hold graduate registration and for those who supervise graduate psychiatric nurses (GPNs).
RPN professional responsibilities and accountabilities are outlined in the above documents and guidelines. In summary, RPNs are reminded to continue to:
- Use and promote current evidence-informed knowledge;
- Implement infection prevention and control measures;
- Advise and encourage patients and the public to make health care decisions based on evidence, and to follow public health prevention and protection measures;
- Engage in practices that promote physical, environmental and psychological safety as public health measures evolve; and
- Use technology, electronic communication, and social media professionally and responsibly.
RPNs and GPNs are required by legislation and bylaw to adhere to the standards, entry-level competencies and code of ethics when carrying out professional responsibilities. RPNs and GPNs who do not adhere to the above responsibilities and miscommunicate pandemic information may have a complaint filed against them. All complaints received require an RPNAS investigation, and possible disciplinary proceedings.
The Saskatchewan.ca/coronavirus website is a key source for Saskatchewan-specific information. Copies of RPNAS documents that govern practice have been hyperlinked above and are found on our website at www.rpnas.com.
In closing, RPNAS thanks our members for their dedicated service and want to support you in your delivery of safe care, while protecting the public. We are here to support you to continue your essential work. If you have any questions regarding your practice, RPNAS Director of Nursing Practice, Lacey Bennett is available at or 306-586-4617 ext. 803 for consultation.