LPNs in Alberta
Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) have been in practice in the province of Alberta for over 70 years. Education and clinical practice for the LPN profession has evolved, enhancing the opportunities for LPN practice. These comprehensive changes to entry-level 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 working primarily as front-line nurses involved in the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of nursing care.
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.
LPNs study from the same body of nursing knowledge as Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) with a 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 healthcare team.
There are numerous post-entry level learning opportunities for LPNs. Advanced Practice authorization is available in the areas of perioperative, orthopedics, and foot care. Additionally, LPNs can enhance their clinical practice by completing certificate programs in areas including mental health, chronic disease management, leadership, gerontology, wound care, and palliative care.
Role and Scope of Practice
As trusted and respected professional nurses, LPNs serve individuals, families, and groups, assessing their needs and providing care and treatments as appropriate.
LPNs practice autonomously and are accountable for their own nursing practice and work collaboratively with other members of the healthcare team seeking assistance when the care needs go beyond their individual competence level. LPNs contribute to Alberta’s healthcare system through a wide range of practice areas including acute care, seniors health and wellness, 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 collaboratively with clients, families, and the healthcare team to ensure continuity and quality of healthcare 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 nurse. The Competency Profile for LPNs outlines the Alberta LPN competencies, which define entry-level, post-entry-level , and areas of advanced practice competencies of the LPN profession. Individual LPNs are not expected to possess all competencies of the profession. Each individual LPN possesses a set of competencies specific to their own expertise, based on their practice setting and experience. The Competency Profile outlines the competencies for Alberta LPNs and is available for download from the CLPNA.