In 2006, the Government of Ontario created the Nursing Retention Fund (NRF) to help nurses with education and training needs resulting from workforce transitions in public hospitals.

Unused monies from the NRF were held in trust for a period of time and this past year, in accordance with the terms of the trust the residual funds were distributed to nursing professional associations. The RPNAO received some of the residual trust funds and has used these to establish the RPN Innovation Fund. This fund provides a new opportunity to make investments in the development of RPNs to support them to meet the emerging needs of patients and our system.

Defining Innovation

What is innovation? Simply stated, it is the development and introduction of something new;  something that is a significant improvement. Innovation isn’t about doing the same thing over again. It is about change, development and growth. It’s about unleashing potential. Innovating is a highly creative process and requires that we engage in “blue sky thinking”, or in other words generating ideas that aren’t bound by current thinking or beliefs. How exciting is that?! RPNAO envisions using the RPN Innovation Fund to lead the way to the optimization of the RPN role in our health care system now and into the next decade.

2017-18 Annual Report

Between January and May 2017, RPNAO conducted a 24 stop, 5000 km provincial tour. The purpose was to gather perspectives and ideas about how best to use the RPN Innovation Fund to optimize the RPN role to meet emerging needs in the health system. The data resulting from this Optimizing the RPN Role provincial tour set the path for some exciting work this year. The themes from the tour were very consistent across data sources and regions and 3 broad goals for Fund use were identified. The RPN Innovation Fund will be used to fund activities that support RPNs to:

  • Have an aligned and celebrated role in the healthcare system
  • Achieve excellence in practice
  • Be leaders in innovating and delivering transformative health system change

Data analysis showed that RPNs have a dual view of innovation. In the first aspect, RPNs desire innovation of their practice experience and the second, more outward looking view involves RPNs as leaders of transformative health system change. These two views of innovation are related. For example, activities that clarify the role and value of the RPN will enable innovation in RPN roles to meet emerging needs in the system which innovative roles will in turn contribute to clarity and valuing of the RPN role. One of the keys to the success of the RPN Innovation Fund will be to balance activities that support growth and development with both aspects of innovation in mind.

As well, a balance must be achieved in the areas of focus that correspond with the three goals of the fund. As much as possible the Fund will be used to support activities that overlap these areas of focus, ideally impacting all three.

Activities funded by the Innovation Fund this year:

  • 14 Bursaries for the Dorothy Wylie Health Leaders Institute
  • 10 bursaries to the 12th Canadian National Conference on Incontinence
  • 35 Rural and Remote Travel Bursaries
  • Portion of the RPN Ad campaign
  • Portion of the addition of a coaching module to the Career Directions program
  • 10 presentations of tour findings including 3 conferences in Ontario
  • Research Think Tank day

Specialty certification for RPNs emerged from the tour as a strong priority for investment of the RPN Innovation fund. Given that strong mandate, RPNAO has been working closely with the Canadian Nurses Association, sharing both our data and our specific survey questions from the provincial tour related to specialty certification for RPNs. CNA has announced that it will be launching a gerontology specialty certification exam for practical nurses in November 2019. RPNAO will continue to be involved with this process.

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