What is the N95 Mask and where can I go to get one? (BSN Clinical Pre-Req)
As a requirement for practice, each student must be fitted with an N95 respirator prior to the start of practicum, by a certified provider.
A respirator is a mask worn over one’s nose and mouth to keep airborne contaminants out of the wearer’s respiratory system and provides a safe air supply while wearing it. The N95 respirator is a specially fitted mask required for use in the care of patients with Airborne infection control precautions.
An “N-95” mask means it is Not resistant to Oil is at least 95% efficient at removing particles 0.3 micrometers in diameter from the air while being used in the course of care and with proper fit and use. Fit testing certification for an N95 mask is to be renewed annually by an approved provider.
Some Suggested N95 Fit Testing Locations include:
NB: This list is not exhaustive, as new suppliers and brands may be updated from time to time.
The above companies are recommended but is not an all an exclusive list. Outside the lower mainland you may find N95 Fit testing services for health facilities in your own community. The service you need is N95 respirator fit testing services conducted in accordance with the CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4.02. The masks generally supplied in the relevant clinical placements in the BC Health Authorities include: 3M Aura 1870+ (3M 1870 to be phased out by 2016), 3M 1860, 3M 1860S, Kimberly Clark Regular, Kimberly Clark Small.
Furthermore, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is a US agency that approves respirators. According to WorkSafeBC, NIOSH-approved masks are also approved for use in the Canadian healthcare setting, as they meet the similar safety standards.
KN95 mask are respirator masks made according to China’s standards, and although very similar, there have been some differences in the breathability, and observed inconsistencies in the level of particulate filtration, which have been found upon testing conducted in Ottawa and the US (See quote and reference links below). So, while KN95 masks may be acceptable for average consumer use, it is not considered safe for healthcare standards where a nursing student/ healthcare provider would be working in an environment with a high risk of direct exposure to various microscopic infective particles. Furthermore,
“Health Canada indicates the N95 and KN95 standards are similar "with respect to design, filtration, performance and materials standards." However, it says that "recent testing performed by the CDC resulted in concerns with some KN95 respirators (specifically those with ear loop design) that pose a difficulty in achieving a proper fit, which is essential for use." (Source: https://healthycanadians.gc.ca/recall-alert-rappel-avis/hc-sc/2020/73063...)
With that said, at this time we must continue to adhere to the list of healthcare provider approved masks referenced above. Please also ensure that your mask fit-testing provider is utilizing masks approved for Healthcare provider use and that their testing services are conducted in accordance with the CSA Standard CAN/CSA-Z94.4.02.
Should you not have access to fit-testing providers that can meet the identified standard, you will be asked to indicate that to the BSN program at the time of certificate collection. If you do not have a valid certificate which meets the school’s requirements, when the school arranges for testing, you will be responsible for testing cost, and you will also be required to participate at the scheduled time designated by the BSN program.
Please note, it is in your best interest if you have access to appropriate vendors, to get tested before the start of the term. Alternatively, for students who were not able to get fit-testing certificates, the School of Nursing will arrange testing. There will be limited flexibility in the fit-testing sessions at UBC and students will not be able to select a time. Appointments will be scheduled in tandem with other scheduled on-site activities.