LPN Practice Decision-Making Tool
This tool assists in determining safe and authorized practice for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) in Alberta. The following six key considerations provide guidance to determine if an area of practice or specific competency is appropriate for an individual LPN.
The application of this tool is shaped by legislation and regulation, the needs of the client, the practice environment, and individual nurse competence. In all areas of practice, LPNs are accountable to the profession’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.
How to Use the Tool
If you respond YES, proceed to the next question.
If you answer NO to any question, practice may not be appropriate at this time. Please consult any applicable Practice and Policy documents or contact the CLPNA Practice Team at Ask CLPNA, email@example.com, 780-484-8886 or 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta.
1. Is the role or activity consistent with the LPN scope of practice, legislation, regulation and professional standards?
The scope of practice statement in the Health Professions Act (Schedule 10, s. 3) for LPNs in Alberta states that
- apply nursing knowledge, skills and judgment to assess clients’ needs;
- provide nursing care for clients and families;
- teach, manage and conduct research in the science, techniques and practice of nursing; and/or
- provide restricted activities authorized by the regulations.
Note – Additional federal and provincial legislation is also applicable to LPN practice. The LPN is responsible for determining which legislation is applicable to their area of practice. Additional guidance can be obtained by contacting the CLPNA Practice Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. Are the competencies needed to perform the role or activity learned in entry-to-practice education? If not, does the LPN have the post-basic education, training, or certification needed, including CLPNA Specialty authorization if needed?
The LPN Competency Profile reflects the scope of practice for LPNs in Alberta. The Competency Profile is designed to give an overview of LPN practice; questions about a competency not reflected in the document may be directed to the CLPNA Practice Team for further discussion.
Shaded areas within the LPN Competency Profile indicate Additional or Specialty competencies.
Additional competencies may be gained through experience, on-the-job training, post-basic education and/or certification.
Specialty competencies require the completion of CLPNA approved education and CLPNA authorization prior to practice in that area. There are currently five LPN specialties in Alberta: advanced foot care, immunization, orthopedic, perioperative, and dialysis.
3. Is the LPN supported to perform the role or activity through employer policy and/or job description?
The CLPNA has the regulatory authority to define practice for LPNs in Alberta. Employer organizations define the role of the LPN specific to the practice environment(s), which may vary based on care requirements, delivery model, and staff mix.
LPNs must work within the role defined by employer policy and/or job description. Any questions regarding a
variance in scope and role of the LPN can be discussed further with the employer or the Practice Team at CLPNA.
4. Does the individual LPN have the competence to perform the role or activity?
In accordance with the LPN Profession Regulation, Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, LPNs must only provide care that they have the education and experience to perform and are accountable for ensuring they have the knowledge and skill required for safe practice.
LPNs requiring additional competence to safely perform a role or activity within their practice environment should discuss this limitation with their employer and seek opportunities for educational support.
Students and regulated members enrolled in an approved education program may perform restricted activities during their training under supervision of an authorized practitioner or regulated member who is authorized to perform the specific restricted activity. Students must also follow the policies of their educational institution as well as the parameters of practice for LPN’s issued a temporary practice permit as outlined in CLPNA policy.
5. Does the role or activity require additional clinical supports to be performed safely?
LPNs must ensure the necessary clinical supports (supervision, environmental, interdisciplinary team or other clinical resources) are available. The LPN must know which roles or activities within their practice require direct, indirect or indirect-remote supervision.
- Direct means that a regulated member (with the exception of a temporary registrant) or an authorized practitioner is physically present at the point of care.
- Indirect means that a regulated member (with the exception of a temporary registrant) or an authorized practitioner who is available for consultation and guidance, but is not required to be physically present at the point of care. The person providing indirect supervision is readily available on site and can provide assistance when needed.
- Indirect – Remote means that a regulated member (with the exception of a temporary registrant) or an authorized practitioner is available for consultation and guidance, but is not required to be physically present at the point of care. The person providing remote supervision can be easily contacted through technology when assistance is needed.
6. Would a nurse, using good judgment, perform the role or activity within this practice environment?
Nursing care decisions should be based on client current and anticipated health needs. In accordance with the Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics, LPNs must use evidence-based judgment to guide their nursing decisions.