Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Nurses Reach Out to Teens


TORONTO, August 21 – As they say – growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional. The latter describes the key goal of adolescence notwithstanding many of the risks facing youth today, including: drug and alcohol use, peer pressure, sexual promiscuity, and low self-esteem. To help Ontario teens through this difficult and often confusing stage, nurses today released a timely new tool to better understand and help care for this group.

The new comprehensive professional guideline for nurses and other health-care workers, Enhancing Healthy Adolescent Development, provides concrete, practical strategies to provide the best physical, social and emotional care possible.

“Adolescence is a time of great change, challenge, and opportunity,” explains Tazim Virani, Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Program Director for the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO). This teen-focused clinical and educational aid based on the best available evidence, helps nurses gain more awareness, and the skills to better meet the special needs, realities and capacities of today’s youth to keep them as confident and healthy as possible,” she says.

The resource (available online and in print) defines adolescence as a period of transition from childhood to adulthood, and outlines three stages including: early (ages 11-14), mid (ages 15-17) and late (ages 18-21). The guideline notes that the main developmental tasks of adolescence include - becoming independent, adjusting to sexual maturation, making friendships, choosing a career direction, establishing intimate relationships, and developing a core set of values and beliefs. The resource also stresses that community co-operation – involving parents, schools, and health-care providers – is key to nurturing adolescents to reach their full potential.

The comprehensive guideline is especially useful for public health and other community nurses who work with “at risk” teens. The guideline provides nurses with key principles to understanding adolescence including:

  • Adolescence is a normal developmental stage
  • Adolescents are not a homogeneous population and include diverse cultures, ages, genders, and socioeconomic status.
  • Adolescents want to participate in a meaningful way and have a voice in the decisions that affect their lives including their health-care.
  • Adolescents need a sense of belonging.
  • Adolescents need to feel supported and valued by adults

The resource encourages nurses to do the following:

  • Encourage interactions that are nonjudgmental, honest and based on active listening and respect.
  • Establish environments that youth perceive to be safe for their participation.
  • Maintain confidentiality within the limits of professional legal obligation.
  • Foster the role of facilitator rather than expert.
  • Involve the meaningful participation of youth.
  • Promote competence and skill development.
  • Stress cooperation rather than competition.
  • Provide opportunity for role models.
  • Focus on building strengths

The resource was developed by a multidisciplinary panel of experts led by RN Joyce Fox, Director of the Healthy Living Service for the Simcoe County District Health Unit in Barrie.

RNAO’s ambitious Best Practice Guidelines Program, funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care was launched in 1999 to provide the best available evidence for patient care across a wide spectrum of health-care areas. The 29 guidelines developed to date are a substantive contribution towards building excellence in Ontario’s health-care system. They are available to nurses across Canada and abroad.

The Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario is the professional association representing registered nurses in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve. To learn more about RNAO’s Nursing Best Guidelines Program or to view these resources please visit


For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605