LPN News

January 18, 2024 | Regulated Members, Practice

How to Determine LPN Scope of Practice

The College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA) has released a practice guideline to assist registrants and stakeholders in interpreting Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) scope of practice.

It outlines the factors that LPNs should consider when making decisions about whether an activity or area of practice falls within scope.

Scope of Practice Is Individual

Scope of practice is different for every registrant. This means that only an individual LPN can determine whether something falls within their scope. The new guideline will help LPNs make that determination. It promotes critical thinking, supporting LPN professional judgement, and permitting flexibility in practice.

The Competency Profile and LPN Scope of Practice

The Competency Profile is not intended to be used in determining LPN scope of practice. It provides examples of activities that LPNs can perform. Not every LPN can perform all of the tasks listed in the Competency Profile. There are several other factors to think about to support your decision making about individual scope of practice.

Determining Scope of Practice

To determine LPN scope of practice, you must look at three areas:

  • Regulatory Scope of Practice provides an overall framework for LPN scope of practice. The role of an LPN is defined in the Health Professions Act and related regulations, standards, policies, and guidelines.
  • Employer Scope of Practice outlines the LPN role in a specific setting through policies, guidelines, and job descriptions. Employer scope of practice can change if the LPN role changes, or it may be different between practice settings.
  • Individual Scope of Practice is an LPN’s individual knowledge, skills, and abilities. This includes entry-to-practice knowledge and education, practice experience, and any additional training or education pursued over the course of one’s

In order for a task to be within scope, it must be within the regulatory, employer, and individual scopes of practice.

Making Decisions: What Activities Can LPNs Perform?

An activity may fall within scope, but LPNs still need to think critically about whether to perform it in specific circumstances. To help make this determination, LPNs should consider three factors: the nurse, the client, and the environment.

The Three-Factor Framework

Nurse Factors include an LPN’s individual knowledge, skills, and abilities. It also includes currency of practice – how recently the LPN has performed the task – and individual capacity.

Client Factors include considerations such as acuity, age, and the range of possible outcomes. LPNs should collaborate with the rest of the care team to support safe, quality care for each individual client.

Environmental Factors include anything that supports LPN practice. This could be equipment, training, policies, support from members of the healthcare team, and the availability of supervision when needed.

More Guidance

The practice guideline, Determining LPN Scope of Practice, is available now on the Knowledge Hub. This guideline includes a list of questions to support critical thinking about scope of practice.

If you have questions after reading this guideline, please contact the Professional Practice Team at the CLPNA via Ask CLPNA, or by phone at 780-484-8886 or 1-800-661-5877 (toll free in Alberta).

Looking for further guidance?

Contact Practice through Ask CLPNA
or call 1-800-661-5877.