June 2, 2021        




The Alberta Government has announced a comprehensive amendment to the Registered Psychiatric Nurses Profession Regulation. Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) in Alberta can now become authorized to prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests.

This new prescribing authority gives Albertans better, timelier access to common medications such as antibiotics and vaccines, and diagnostic tests such as urinalysis, swabs, or x-rays. The expanded scope of practice enables Registered Psychiatric Nurses to provide a broader range of nursing services in communities right across Alberta enhancing continuity of care for Albertans.


“This is a historic day for Registered Psychiatric Nurses in Alberta, these amendments support over 1,500 psychiatric nurses to better assist a rapidly evolving healthcare system well into the future.  The optimization of the RPN profession will increase quality, continuity and efficiency, that will better serve Albertans.”  Tonya Ratushniak, RPN and President, College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta.


"This is not only a milestone for registered psychiatric nursing practice in Alberta but an important step towards providing Albertans with better access to medications and tests when they need them, these changes can improve access to timely, cost-effective mental health and health care by maximizing the contributions of registered psychiatric nurses,” says Barbara Lowe, CEO & Registrar, College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of Alberta.


Not all registered psychiatric nurses will be authorized to prescribe and order tests. A registered psychiatric nurse with clinical experience in a particular area will be required to complete additional education before being authorized to prescribe.  There are also requirements for appropriate clinical supports to be in place in the employment setting. The registered psychiatric nurse's practice permit will identify the clinical practice area where their prescribing and ordering of tests is authorized and can occur.

Quick Facts

With the regulatory changes, RPNs will be able to:

  • Order or apply non-ionizing radiation in ultrasound imaging (other than the application of ultrasound to a fetus);
  • Order ionizing radiation in medical radiography; and
  • Prescribe a Schedule 1 drug and order diagnostic tests, with additional education.
  • These changes reflect current health system needs and RPN competencies.

The CRPNA has developed draft standards of practice, criteria, requirements, guidelines, and competencies for RPN prescribing and ordering of diagnostic tests and draft standards of practice for the provision of restricted activities that are comprehensive, clear, and practical to assist registered psychiatric nurses, employers, educational institutions and affiliated health professions.  


More RPN prescribing information