Registered nurses are integral to providing safe, ethical and quality care to patients, clients and residents and are key to the overall delivery of health care services across Ontario.

In recent years, nurses have struggled with many issues that have negatively impacted their ability to provide quality care. From RN cuts to skill mix issues and surge capacity, our members face workplace challenges each and every day. At ONA, we are here to stand up for safe care for our patients and support our members in their workplaces. We have developed tools and processes to assist members in resolving practice concerns. ONA is run for nurses, by nurses – we know the challenges you face every day and we will help you get results that benefits your patients.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Professional Practice FAQs

We hope that you will find the questions useful in answering your practice questions. If you have a question that should be featured on this page, please email it to pstintake@ona.org

Under what circumstances should I complete a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form?

Completing a Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form is one of the best ways to meet your professional practice standards. It allows you to document and report concerns and make recommendations to improve the quality of patient/client/resident care. When your workload or working conditions compromise your ability to meet the College of Nurses of Ontario Standards and/or when your ability to provide safe, ethical and quality care is compromised, please complete the form. For instance, if you are concerned about unsafe staffing levels or skill mix, any delayed, incomplete or missed assessments, treatments or medications, workplace policies and procedures, communications issues, equipment and supplies issues, non-nursing duties and/or lack of support staff or any other issues, please complete the form.

My manager says I do not need to submit a workload form if she is in the unit and is made aware of the situation. Is this true?

No. Filling out the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form (PRWRF) is your way of documenting the concerns and provides evidence that you have reported your concern to your leadership. The completed form is the start of  a paper trail identifying professional practice issues, establishing trends and recording whether there was an appropriate response or resolution from management at the time of the incident or not. Although the issue may be resolved at the time (e.g. critical incident was prevented), the staffing shortage or other issue causing the root of the problem can be an ongoing issue and is best reflected in the accurate and consistent filing of PRWRFs. These forms will prove to be especially fundamental in demonstrating that nurses or other health professionals have taken all the right steps to advocate for optimal patient care.

Where can I find the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form?

The Professional Responsibility Workload Report Forms can be found in your workplace in each unit. If you are unable to locate the form on your unit, please ask your Bargaining Unit Representative or your Bargaining Unit President for the form. You can also find a copy of the form online on the ONA website. You can download the form, fill it in, and then distribute it. Some workplaces have an electronic process for submitting a Professional Responsibility Workload Report. If your workplace has this process, please contact your Unit Rep and/or your Bargaining Unit President who will be happy to assist you.

Is there additional information on how to fill in the form? What do I need to include on the form?

Yes. On the website, review the guidelines to completing the forms and samples that are already completed that serves as a reference in each sector. In addition to sharing your concerns with your manager, you are encouraged to contact your Unit Rep or your Professional Responsibility Complaint (PRC) representative and/or your Bargaining Unit President so they are aware and can assist you. Remember to complete the form as soon as possible after the workload or practice concern occurs and to omit any patient/family names or identifiers when providing details of the situation. In addition, you can access the eLearning site which has tips for each sector on completing the form.

What constitutes workload concerns?

According to the Collective Agreement, any time the employer assigns a number of patients or workload to an individual nurse or a group of nurses in that they have cause to believe that they are being asked to perform more work than is consistent with proper patient care, that would constitute as a workload concern. For a comprehensive list of workload concerns, review the Professional Responsibility Workload Concerns/Indicators in Appendix B.

By engaging in the PRC process, you are playing a pivotal role in meeting your Accountability Standard for your regulatory college and you are also advocating for patient safety and quality patient care.

Am I allowed to take time to fill in the workload form during my work time?

ONA recommends that you complete the workload form as soon as possible after your shift, ideally before meeting with your manager. This ensures that you can best recall the details of the workload issues that occurred and will help prepare you for your meeting with the manager. It may be difficult to recall multiple days of workload concerns/issues if they occur consecutively and are similar in nature.

Whom should I give my completed form to?

There are five copies to the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form. The copies should go to:

  • Your Manager.
  • Your Bargaining Unit President.
  • Your Labour Relations Officer. (You can give the copy for your Labour Relations Officer to your Bargaining Unit President)
  • The Chief Nursing Executive at your workplace.
  • Keep a copy for yourself.

Please make sure you press hard when you are completing the form. All copies of the form need to be legible and readable.

Who can help me complete the form?

Your Unit Rep will be happy to help you complete the form. If you don’t know who your Unit Rep is, please ask your Bargaining Unit President for assistance.

How many days do I have to submit the form after the occurrence?

You should submit the form as soon as you can after the incident. Most collective agreements contain a timeline in which the form must be submitted. For example, the Hospital Central Collective Agreement requires that the Professional Responsibility Workload Report Form should be submitted within 20 days of the occurrence.

What will my manager say if I submit a workload form?

The Professional Responsibility Complaint (PRC) process is a collaborative process and needs to include management at every step of the way. Your manager is aware of the process and agrees that patient care is enhanced if concerns are resolved in a timely and effective manner. By being transparent with management, you are allowing them the opportunity to initiate solutions and resolutions, implement timely changes and provide appropriate supports to enable nurses to practice in a setting that is consistent with proper patient care.

My manager gets upset when I submit a workload form. What can I say to help her/him understand that I am worried about my ability to provide care in a timely and safe manner?

The employer and ONA agree that patient care is enhanced if concerns relating to professional practice, patient acuity, fluctuating workloads and fluctuating staffing are resolved in a timely and effective manner (see the relevant Article in your collective agreement). By submitting a professional responsibility workload report form, ONA members are using one of the best methods to meet their professional practice standards from the regulatory college. Your manager has additional accountabilities under the administrative accountabilities of their professional standards and must act to resolve issues and concerns raised. Your manager should understand this, and is in a position to fully support you in meeting your standards. If your manager has taken actions or steps to interfere or offset the PRC process including the filing of workload forms, you should contact your Bargaining Unit President at the earliest opportunity who will support you and advise you of the next steps.

I submitted my form but I haven’t heard back. What’s next?

Your manager is required to respond to you in writing within 10 days of receiving the form. If you do not hear back from your manager, please follow up with your Bargaining Unit President. As a best practice, we recommend meeting with your manager after you submit your form to discuss the issues. You can request an ONA representative to accompany you to this meeting.

Frequently Asked Questions