On this page: Our Journey | Members leading change | RNAO's partnerships and engagements | RNAO policy | Capacity building | RNAO media | Staff leading change
Our journey: Nurses' health and wellbeing and RNAO
The global pandemic has clearly demonstrated the importance of healthy work environments (HWE) for nurses. Our already compromised health system has faltered over the past two years, causing a myriad of nursing challenges such as wage restraints, understaffing, lack of support and overwhelming workloads.
Healthy workplaces are the cornerstones of recruitment and retention of a robust, and engaged nursing workforce. This was proven in 1999/2000 with the exodus of Ontario nurses to the U.S. following the deterioration of working conditions.
In 2003, RNAO formalized its focus on HWEs through the provincial and federally funded healthy work environment best practice guidelines(BPG) project. Organizations using HWE BPGs to address these challenges showed positive impacts on nurses and patient care.
Since the onset of the pandemic nurses have been resilient in the face of inordinate stress, and have had to find ways to adapt and reach out for help when necessary. But the journey is changing. A large number of nurses have reached their limit, and are experiencing high levels of stress and burnout. RNs in particular are leaving their jobs and the profession. RNAO is committed to assisting nurses in this time of crisis, and continue to develop solutions and strategies to support the health and wellbeing of Ontario’s nurses.
Healthy workplaces are the cornerstones of recruitment and retention of a robust, and engaged nursing workforce.
Nursing Through Crisis: A Comparative Perspective
Nursing Through Crisis reports on five surveys where nurses’ perspectives of working through the COVID-19 pandemic were examined. The report describes how the COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a nursing crisis for a nursing workforce that have been overworked, and understaffed for decades. It shows that a significant percentage of Canadian nurses experienced severe or extremely severe levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, and high levels of burnout during the pandemic. A significant percentage of nurse respondents planned to leave the profession, and a significant percentage of nurses were undecided. The report outlined urgent recommendations for health-system employers and government to build RN careers in Ontario. RNAO will also provide the following programs to retain and recruit Ontario nurses, and aid in the health and wellbeing of these nurses.
RNAO programs for nurses
Advanced Clinical Practice Fellowship (ACPF) program (expanded)
Advanced Clinical Practice Fellowship Program provides registered nurses (RN) and nurse practitioners (NP) the opportunity to have a focused self-directed learning experience to develop clinical, leadership or best practice guideline implementation knowledge and skills, with support from a mentor(s).
Leadership and Management for Nurses Program
The overall aim of the Leadership and Management for Nurses Program is to enhance competence, confidence and effectiveness of nurses in health care manager roles through building leadership and managerial knowledge and skills.
Mentorship for Nurses program
The RNAO Mentorship Program supports the retention, engagement and the professional career development of members of the nursing profession. The RNAO Mentorship Program is designed for those looking for a mentor to support their professional career development.
Nursing Student and Preceptor Long-Term Care program
The overall aim of the Nursing Student and Preceptor Toolkit is to provide support and resources to students and preceptors in long-term care, to develop positive student learning experiences. This web-based online toolkit consists of a variety of resources to support students and preceptors.
Members leading change
RNAO Interest Groups
RNAO started out with six interest groups in 1979, and has now expanded to 33 interest groups in 2022, reflecting the vast continuum of nursing. As members of RNAO, RNs can choose to join any of the interest groups. Each of RNAO’s interest groups represents a unique specialty or population within the nursing spectrum, and offers a range of professional resources and supports for members.
Members mobilizing change
RNAO resolutions 2021
Supporting nurses’ mental health and wellbeing
A call to action for governments and health-care leaders to promote practices and work environments to support optimal mental health and wellbeing, resilience and suicide prevention.
Supporting new graduate nurses
Research and advocacy to support new graduate nurses.
Support of nurses and nursing students during Ontario’s health crisis
Designated mental health support for all nursing workplaces and academic institutions during provincial health crisis.
RNAO’s partnerships and engagement
Nurses’ Health Program
The Nurses’ Health Program (NHP) is designed to encourage nurses to seek treatment for substance use and/or mental health disorders that may affect their ability to practice nursing safely. The NHP is supported by RNAO, the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) and the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (WeRPN).
Nursing Week is the annual celebration of our profession that always coincides with the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, on May 12. RNAO is proud to recognize all nurses for the quality of care they provide to patients, clients and long-term care residents. From the bedside to the classroom and the boardroom, nurses make Ontario, our country and the world a healthier place.
Nurses celebrate National Nurse Practitioner Week
It is important to dedicate a week to celebrate NPs. They make formidable contributions to the health system by improving timely access to health services, delivering quality care for Ontarians, and optimizing outcomes for patients, organizations and the health system as a whole.
The RNAO Recognition Awards are presented annually to recognize individuals and groups that make significant contributions to RNAO's mandate of speaking out for nursing and speaking out for health. To honour these individuals and groups, consider nominating a colleague, yourself or your organization for one of RNAO's prestigious Recognition Awards.
Nursing Now Ontario Awards
"The awards honour nurses work in improving Ontarians' health and quality of life during the best and worst of times," says RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun. NNOA celebrates the contribution of nurses who improve the health outcomes of Ontarians and who contribute to nursing practice. Awards are presented to one winner in three categories: NP, RN, and RPN.
Ontario's RN understaffing crisis: Impact and solution
For decades, Ontario has had an RN understaffing problem. The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a new, deeper crisis in RN staffing. RNAO insists on urgent action from health-care system employers and government. RNAO’s political action bulletin and fact sheet about Ontario’s RN understaffing crisis are effective tools to demonstrate the outcomes and impacts of the shortage of RNs.
Psychosocial support during the COVID-19 pandemic
RNAO is aware nurses and health-care providers across Ontario are experiencing tremendous levels of physical and emotional stress due to COVID-19, and are committed to supporting you during this time.
COVID-19 Webinar Series
RNAO's CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun hosts COVID-19 webinars for health providers on every second Monday of the month. The webinars include updates on COVID-19 and the health system, guest speakers on prominent topics, questions and answer opportunities, calls to action, and more.
NP LTC Council Webinar
The NP LTC Council with support from the RNAO, hosts the NP LTC Webinar every third Thursday of every month from 12 to 1 p.m. The webinar provides supports, networking opportunities and education to NPs working in LTC.
RNCareers is Ontario's first online career board for nurses, specializing in all levels of nursing across all health-care sectors.
Nursing Education Initiative Grant Program
Funded by the government of Ontario, the Nursing Education Initiative Grant Program provides education grants to support nurses’ knowledge and skills through professional development.
Best practice guidelines
Best practice guidelines (BPGs) are systematically developed, evidence-based documents that include recommendations for nurses and the interprofessional team, educators, leaders and policy-makers, persons and their chosen families on specific clinical and healthy work environment topics. RNAO has about 50 BPGs covering four themes: foundational, clinical, system and healthy work environment and population and public health.
Workplace Health, Safety and Well-being of the Nurse
Preventing Violence, Harassment and Bullying Against Health Workers
Developing and Sustaining Safe, Effective Staffing and Workload Practices
Developing and Sustaining Nursing Leadership
‘Nurses are the front line of everything’: Pandemic toll has nurses seeking counselling more than others in health care
How will a provincial incentive entice nurses to stay on the job
'They're leaving every day': Peel Nurses giving up on profession, especially after PC's wage suppression law
RNAO staff leading change
RNAO staff work tirelessly to host monthly COVID-19 webinars. These webinars allow all nurses to both receive the latest updates on COVID-19 and the health system, and to ask questions and discuss concerns.
Dr. Doris Grinspun
RN, MSN, PhD, LLD(hon), Dr(hc), FAAN, FCAN, O.ONT.
Chief Executive Officer, RNAO
Associate Director, RNAO
Project Coordinator, RNAO
Dr. Irmajean Bajnok
RN, MScN, PhD, FCAN, FAAN
Senior Policy Analyst, RNAO
RN, BScN, MA(Ed)
Director IABPG Centre, RNAO