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Seems like a simple question, but when many are asked about the difference between Standards and Guidelines sometimes there is a little bit of garrumpfing followed by mumbling and  sheepish grins.
To help you answer these basic questions…..
1. From the College of Registered Nurses of BC website glossary
“[Clinical practice guidelines
An evidence-based tool used by practitioners to guide decision-making regarding a specific client. Clinical practice guidelines may be developed by a multidisciplinary team or be specific to the practice of one profession. (See also “evidence-based.”)
Standard
A desired and achievable level of performance against which actual performance can be compared. It provides a benchmark below which performance is unacceptable.
Principle
A fundamental truth, law, doctrine or assumption.
Practice of nursing
The Nurses (Registered) and Nurse Practitioner Regulation under the Health Professions Act defines “nursing” as the health profession in which a person provides or performs the following services: Health care for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health; and Prevention, treatment and palliation of illness and injury, primarily by assessment of health status, planning and implementation of interventions, and coordination of health services.
Licensure
Exclusive power or privilege granted through legislation to persons meeting established standards to engage in a given occupation or profession and to use a specific title.
Evidence-based:  Describing something (e.g., practice, decision support tool) that is based on successful strategies that improve client outcomes and are derived from a combination of various sources of evidence, including research, national guidelines, policies, consensus statements, expert opinion, quality improvement data and client perspectives.]”
2. From the American Nurses Association:Standards are authoritative statements by which the nursing profession describes the responsibilities for which its practitioners are accountable. Standards reflect the values and priorities of the profession and provide direction for professional nursing practice and a framework for the evaluation of this practice. They also define the nursing profession’s accountability to the public and the outcomes for which registered nurses are responsible.
a) Standardized terminologies supporting nursing practice (Currently 12 terminologies are recognized.) American Nurses Association
b) ANA’s page of helpful links for American Nurses
3.  From the HG Legal Experts Directory: a detailed definition of Nursing Standards of Practice.
“Definitions from the Health Professions Act:
  1. “health profession association” means a society, as defined in the Society Act, whose members are persons practising a health profession;
  2. health profession corporation” means a corporation to which a permit has been issued under section 43;”
From the Canadian Nurses Association page of links to the governing bodies for nurses in each province/ territory:
“The Nursing Best Practice Guidelines Program was created to support Ontario nurses by providing them with best practice guidelines for client care.Nursing is a self-regulating profession, meaning that the provincial/territorial governments delegate to the nursing profession, by statute, the power to regulate itself in the interest of the public.One of the characteristics of a self-regulating profession is the development of standards of practice, based on the values of the profession. For nurses in Canada, these values are articulated in the Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses. Regulatory bodies for nursing have the legal requirement to set standards of practice for registered nurses to protect the public in their province or territory. Together, the code of ethics and standards provide the basis for nursing practice in Canada. Therefore, the provincial/territorial regulatory bodies establish, monitor and enforce standards of professional practice and conduct. Below are links to jurisdictional standards currently available.”
College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia
College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta
Saskatchewan Registered Nurses’ AssociationCollege of Registered Nurses of Manitoba

College of Nurses of Ontario

Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec

Nurses Association of New Brunswick

College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia

Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador

Registered Nurses Association of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut

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