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 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.
Three versions of the document are shown below for your convenience: a mobile-friendly version in Issuu; a downloadable and printable PDF; and in plain text.
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’s Professional Practice Team at Ask CLPNA, email@example.com, 780-484-8886 or 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta)
LPN PRACTICE DECISION-MAKING TOOL
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.
LPN practice is articulated in the current LPN Competency Profile. The restricted activities LPNs are authorized to perform are outlined in the LPN Profession Regulation and the Standards of Practice on Restricted Activities and Advanced Practice.
Note – Additional pieces of 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’s Professional Practice Team at Ask CLPNA, firstname.lastname@example.org, 780-484-8886 or 1-800-661-5877 (toll-free in Alberta).
2. Are the competencies needed to perform the role or activity learned in entry-level education? If not, does the LPN have the post-level education, training, or certification needed, including CLPNA advanced 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 Professional Practice Team for further discussion.
Shaded areas within the LPN Competency Profile indicate post entry-level and advanced practice competencies. Post entry-level competencies may be gained through experience, on-the-job training, post entry-level education, or certification. Competencies related to activities requiring advanced authorization are taught through CLPNA-approved education and need to be authorized by the Registrar prior to performing these activities. Additionally, there are three areas of LPN advanced practice in Alberta: advanced practice foot care, advanced practice orthopedic nursing, and advanced practice perioperative nursing.
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 Professional Practice Team at CLPNA.
4. Does the individual LPN have the competence to perform the role or activity?
In accordance with the LPN 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 LPNs issued a provisional 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: a regulated member (with the exception of a provisional registrant) or an authorized practitioner who is physically present at the point of care.
- Indirect: a regulated member (with the exception of a provisional 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: a regulated member (with the exception of a provisional 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 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-informed judgment to guide their nursing decisions.