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November 1, 2022

Practice Expectation Spotlight

Practice Expectation Spotlight: Accountability and Shared Responsibility

Being accountable means acknowledging our professional, legal, and ethical obligations and being capable to explain why we did or did not meet those obligations. It includes:

  • understanding that we answer for the consequences of our actions. 
  • answering for our inaction
  • taking responsibility and actions to address errors.

Your accountability cannot be shared or delegated to another person. It is your obligation to explain your actions. You are responsible for providing care to clients assigned to you and accountable for the decisions you make and the care you provide. You accept responsibility for your actions and are accountable for your results.

Although the example scenario is about a RN working as an agency nurse in a large health centre, the principles of collaborative practice and accountability and responsibility would apply when working with any person new to your practice area.  

 Consider the following scenario: 

You arrive to work at a large health centre and note upon arrival that there is a new team member that you have never worked with before. You learn that this new team member is a RN that was placed by a nursing agency. They are unfamiliar with the unit. As per usual, you receive a comprehensive report from the departing nurse and see that you have been assigned to buddy with the agency nurse. The person assigned as your buddy, typically provides client coverage during break periods. Recognizing that your practice area includes a variety of client types, ranging from stable clients to clients that are more complex, what should you both consider to provide safe, competent, and ethical care? 

Part A- You are Employed by the Health Centre 

  • Has the agency RN worked in your practice environment before? If not, what information should be shared with the agency RN? 
  • Is the agency RN familiar with processes, procedures, policies, and escalation processes? 
  • Does the agency RN have a point person or buddy assigned to them on the unit so that they may reach out to someone as questions arise? 

Part B- You Are Employed by a Nursing Agency 

  • Are you familiar with the practice environment, policies, procedures, and processes of where you are assigned? How will you receive an orientation to the equipment, policies, and protocols in use in the environment? 
  • What is your plan if you do not have the knowledge, skill, and judgment to perform a nursing activity safely and competently? Have you determined that you are competent to practice in this clinical area? Do you know to whom to reach out if you have questions? 
  • Do you know what to do if there is a professional practice issue? 
  • Do you have the required permissions to access the electronic patient care record? Before accessing an electronic medical record, you must seek permission from the facility. Having permission at one facility does not automatically grant you permission at another. 

It is the responsibility of all registered nurses or RNs in Manitoba to understand all practice expectations and be accountable to apply them to their own nursing practice, regardless of roles or practice settings. 

Both RNs have the responsibility of caring for the clients assigned to them. They are both accountable for the decisions that they each make and the care they provide. They use the principles of inter-professional collaborative practice to work together effectively.  


Practice Direction: Practice Expectations for RNs 

Practice Direction: Practice Expectations for RN(NP)s 

Practice Direction: Practice Expectations for RN(AP)s 

2017 Code of Ethics 

Registered Nurse Responsibilities Related to Professional Practice Issues