On this page: Our journey | Members leading change | RNAO's partnerships and engagements | RNAO policy | Capacity building | RNAO media
Our journey: Registered Nurses, Clinical Nurse Specialists and RNAO
Registered nurses (RN) led the development of RNAO almost ten decades ago, and have helped shape it into a dynamic professional organization that spans a broad range of interest groups, programs, events and activities. Over the years, RNAO has expanded and evolved, to embrace advanced nursing practice roles such as clinical nurse specialists (CNS), and showcase the remarkable diversity of the nursing profession. There are opportunities for RNs and CNSs across all domains of nursing to find their place at RNAO.
RNAO believes that the leadership of every nurse impacts individual and collective health. RNAO provides several capacity building and professional development opportunities to empower RNs and CNSs to lead change, speak out on emerging issues and embody excellence in nursing practice.
As the earliest adopters of RNAO’s evidence-based best practice guidelines (BPG) and implementation resources, RNs and CNSs harness this knowledge to optimize clinical and management decision-making. They also contribute to RNAO's strong collective voice, speaking out about emerging policy issues impacting nurses, the nursing profession, health and health services. RNs’ and CNSs' voices are vital to RNAO, as it partners with the health system and other stakeholder groups to mobilize change, create healthy work environments and quality health care, and further advance nursing roles for better health outcomes.
“A rich body of evidence from RNAO’s '70 years of RN effectiveness database’ shows that RN care is directly linked to positive outcomes on numerous patient, organizational and financial markers."
Mind the Safety Gap
In May 2016, RNAO released its landmark report: Mind the Safety Gap in health system transformation: Reclaiming the role of the RN. This report offers a set of system-level nursing human resource recommendations to utilize Ontario’s nursing workforce in ways that contribute to successful health system transformation.
“We need the right care providers at the right time, and that means reclaiming the role of the RN in the name of patient safety.”
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.
Staff Nurse Interest Group (SNIG)
The Staff Nurse Interest Group (SNIG) represents all regions in Ontario and believes that staff nurses should provide a leadership role during these constant times of transition. There is an acute need for renewal and reinvesting in ourselves and in our profession to improve health care in Ontario. Staff nurses are a valuable resource within our health-care system; we practice with leadership, care and advocacy, and we know we make a difference at the many points of care — homes, hospitals, continuing care, long-term care and community care.
2019 - present
Past SNIG chair
2011 - 2019
Past SNIG chair
2000 – 2009
Clinical Nurse Specialist Association of Ontario (CNS-ON)
The CNS-ON supports the role of advanced nursing practice in Ontario through professional networking and educational development activities for its members. Among CNS-ON’s goals is the clarification and promotion of the role of advanced nursing practice within the nursing profession and among other health-care professionals, health-care employers, consumers and policy makers.
2021 - present
Past Provincial Co-President/President of CNS-ON
2011-2012 (then Clinical Nurse Specialist Interest Group), 2012-2015 & 2019-2021
Dr. Paul-André Gauthier
Past Provincial Co-President/President of CNS-ON
2013-2015 & 2015-2019
Members mobilizing change
RNAO resolutions 2021
Supporting nurses’ mental health and well-being
A call to action for governments and health-care leaders to promote practices and work environments to support optimal mental health and well-being, resilience and suicide prevention
Supporting new graduate nurses
Research and advocacy to support new graduate nurses
Designated mental health support for all nursing workplaces and academic institutions during provincial health crisis
RNAO's partnerships and engagements
Joint Provincial Nursing Committee
RNAO is a member of the Joint Provincial Nursing Committee (JPNC), an advisory committee of key nursing organizations and the government of Ontario. RNAO partners with other members of the JPNC to advise the government on issues affecting the nursing profession, as well as on matters of policy and practice that promote the health of Ontarians.
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).
In response to the sudden spike in demand for nursing human resources across the health-care system at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, RNAO launched its VIANurse program. From March to May 2020, VIANurses served the staffing needs of 316 organizations in different sectors. These include: 241 long-term care homes, 29 hospitals, 11 public health units, seven Indigenous health facilities, three hospices, three correctional centres and others. Many organizations have accessed VIANurse multiple times. In addition to many others, Ottawa Public Health, Sienna Senior Living, AdvantAge Ontario and Villa Colombo sent RNAO letters expressing their deepest gratitude for its help during COVID-19.
Best Practice Spotlight Organizations® (BPSO):
In 2003, the BPSO designation was launched as a key knowledge translation strategy supporting BPG implementation, rapid learning and evidence-based practice sustainability at the individual, organizational and health system levels to optimize clinical and health outcomes. BPSOs have been established provincially, nationally and internationally, in all sectors.
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-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.
Technical backgrounder for 2022 provincial platform
RNAO’s technical backgrounder was sent to all provincial party leaders in Ontario, and contains the nursing and health-care delivery elements of RNAO’s 2022 provincial election policy platform. The adoption and implementation of the evidence-based policy proposals are necessary in the immediate circumstances of the pandemic, to our eventual recovery from the pandemic and for the long-term effectiveness of Ontario’s health system.
Letter to the College of Nurses of Ontario regarding international educated nurses
In the midst of Ontario’s worsening nursing crisis, thousands of internationally educated nurses (IEN) living in Ontario remain unable to practise as their applications with the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO) languish for years. In a Jan. 24, 2022 letter, RNAO urged the CNO to expedite IEN applicants so they can join Ontario’s nursing workforce.
Repeal Bill 124
Call on the premier to immediately repeal Bill 124.
STOP further action on CNO council decision to expand RPN scope
Tell the provincial government to stop further action on the College of Nurses of Ontario’s decision that would render the RN and RPN scope of practice identical.
Premier, mandate vaccinations for all health-care and workers and immediately establish safe zones to protect them
Call on the premier to extend mandatory vaccinations to all health-care and education workers and to immediately establish safe zones around their places of work.
RNAO nursing Best Practice Guideline (BPG) program
There are several ways to get involved in RNAO’s nursing BPG program, including participating in a Champions Virtual Workshop, becoming a member of a future BPG development panel or a BPG stakeholder reviewer, suggesting a BPG topic, becoming a best practice champion and/or a nurse ambassador, and more.
Best Practice Guidelines
Population and Public Health
System and Healthy Work Environment
Preventing Violence, Harassment and Bullying Against Health Workers
This comprehensive database includes studies exploring the effectiveness of RNs on clinical/patient outcomes, organizational/nurse outcomes and financial outcomes over the past 70 years, and can be used for evidence-informed decision making by policy makers, researchers and health-care administrators.
Nursing Quality Indicators for Reporting and Evaluation® (NQuIRE®)
Exclusive to BPSOs, Nursing Quality Indicators for Reporting and Evaluation (NQuIRE) consists of a database of quality indicators derived from recommendations within RNAO’s BPGs. NQuIRE provides a number of benefits for patients, nurses, organizations and health systems.
Leading Change Toolkit™
The Leading Change Toolkit is an online open-access, evidence-informed implementation resource. The toolkit focuses on the uptake and sustainability of knowledge and uses two complementary frameworks (Social Movement Action and Knowledge to Action) to accelerate your success.
Virtual Clinical BPG Institute
The virtual Clinical BPG Institute is for nurses and other health-care professionals interested in developing the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully introduce and sustain practice change in their organization through the implementation of RNAO’s BPGs.
Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop
The Best Practice Champions Virtual Workshop is a free, live two-part online educational opportunity designed to introduce nurses and other health-care providers to evidence-based practice, RNAO’s BPGs and how to successfully implement BPGs in their workplaces.
What’s New in Best Practices webinar
These webinars occur when RNAO releases a new BPG to allow nurses, other health providers and stakeholders to gain an in-depth understanding of the guideline. The most recent webinar was for the Vascular Access, Second Edition BPG.
Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series
The Wisdom in Wound Care Webinar Series offers 11 monthly, 45-minute webinars hosted by RNAO and facilitated by wound care experts in Ontario. The webinar series covers best practices in relation to acute and chronic wound prevention, assessment and treatment.
RNAO offers several orientation programs, e-learning courses and books to assist nurses’ learning and suit different learning styles.
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.
Queen's Park on the Road (QPOR) 2021
QPOR enables RNAO members to meet with MPPs to discuss key nursing, health and health-care delivery issues, and influence healthy public policy changes
Take Your MPP to Work (TYMTW)
Since it began in 2000, TYMTW has grown to become an important political engagement event for RNAO members and MPPs alike. Premiers, cabinet ministers, opposition leaders and numerous MPPs, have gone to work with RNs and NPs in public health units, community health centres, family health teams, NP-led clinics, hospitals, long-term care homes and post-secondary institutions, among others. The event has also successfully taken place virtually amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Queen's Park Day (QPD)
RNAO’s annual QPD provides members of RNAO’s assembly with the opportunity to engage their elected representatives and watch the political process at work. Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, the upcoming QPD meeting will again be held virtually, and we are opening registration to include ALL RNAO members for this virtual event.
RNAO in the News
RNAO speaks out for nursing and speaks out for health - especially in the media. From print media to radio to broadcast, RNAO advocates for healthy public policy and promotes excellence in the nursing profession.
Read the stories that RNAO has been mentioned in and/or interviewed for.
RNAO staff leading change
RNAO’s Small Talk is a video segment to facilitate conversations about current health-care issues with RNAO members, as well as members of RNAO’s board of directors and assembly of leaders.
Membership staff share their experiences during the pandemic
Maureen Norton and Cecile Nava from RNAO's membership department speak about their experiences with RNAO members during the pandemic.
Nurses decry Premier Ford's silence on repealing Bill 124
RNAO's Director of Policy Matthew Kellway, RNAO President-Elect Dr. Claudette Holloway, RN Leah Waxman and RNAO CEO Dr. Doris Grinspun speak about the detrimental effects of Bill 124 and Premier Ford's inaction.
Small Talk with RNAO's Christina Medeiros and Robert Mihan
RNAO's Senior Manager of Evaluation and Monitoring, Christina Medeiros, and Membership Retention and Recruitment Coordinator, Robert Mihan speak about the importance and benefits of an RNAO membership.