LPNs in Alberta
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) have been in practice in the province of Alberta for over 60 years. Education and clinical practice for the LPN profession has evolved, enhancing the opportunities for LPN practice. These comprehensive changes to basic education, continuing education, and practice environments have impacted the demand for LPNs and opened new and unique opportunities throughout the province.
Who is an LPN?
LPNs are professional nurses and work within their own scope of practice, standards of practice and code of ethics. LPNs are one of three categories of professional nurses in Alberta and continue to excel as front line nurses involved in the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of nursing care.
LPNs study from the same body of nursing knowledge as registered nurses (RNs) and registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs) with a more focused approach in foundational knowledge, critical thinking, and clinical judgment to suit the LPNs role of today. LPNs have the knowledge, skill, judgment, and abilities to contribute in all phases of the continuum of care from prevention to acute treatment and management, to long term and palliative care. LPNs may have independent, interdependent, and often overlapping roles on the health care team.
LPNs in Alberta graduate from a two year diploma in practical nursing offered at the college level. The program provides a minimum of 1650 instructional hours including 750 hours of theoretical instruction and 900 hours of clinical / lab experience.
There are numerous post-basic learning opportunities for LPNs. Specialty education is available in many areas such as immunization, operating room, advanced orthopedics, renal dialysis, and advanced foot care. There are also additional certificate programs in areas such as mental health, chronic disease management, leadership, gerontology, wound care, and palliative care.
Role and Scope of Practice
LPNs in Alberta practice autonomously and assume full responsibility for their own practice. As trusted and respected professional nurses, LPNs serve individuals, families, and groups, assessing their needs and providing care and treatments as appropriate.
LPNs are accountable for their own nursing practice and as any professional, are expected to seek assistance when the needs within their practice go beyond their competence level. There are many roles within Alberta for LPNs in areas such as: acute care, long term care, community, primary care clinics, education, occupational health and safety, public health, and leadership.
LPNs advocate for clients related to all areas of practice including human, physical, and financial resources necessary to provide safe, quality nursing care. LPNs work collaborative with clients, families, and the health care team to ensure continuity of care and quality health service delivery.
Regulated Professional Nurses
As a self-regulating profession, LPNs must meet registration requirements set out by the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) under the Licensed Practical Nurses Profession Regulation, Alta Reg 81/2003. This includes initial registration upon completion of an approved practical nurse program or equivalent. It also includes annual renewal of registration, participation in continuing competence activities, and being actively engaged in the practice of the profession.
Competency Profile for LPNs
Competency is defined as the knowledge, skills, behaviours and attitudes of a professional. The Competency Profile for LPNs outlines the Alberta LPN competencies, which define basic, additional, and specialized competencies of the LPN profession. No one LPN is required to possess all competencies of the profession. Each individual will possess a set of competencies specific to their own expertise, based on their work experience and practice setting. The Competency Profile is a detailed account of these competencies and is available directly from the CLPNA.