A licensed practical nurse (LPN) has graduated from a recognized, 18 to 24 month practical nursing program and is registered with the British Columbia College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP). Practical nursing education is based on a standardized curriculum used by private and public institutions. LPNs study from the same body of knowledge as registered nurses and registered psychiatric nurses. They study health and wellness, human biology, disease, health promotion, illness prevention, teaching and health-care systems. With additional education, LPNs can work in areas such as emergency, mental health and substance misuse, postpartum, hemodialysis, perioperative and orthopaedics.

In B.C. LPNs who are registered with BC can call themselves a “nurse”, “licensed practical nurse”, or “practical nurse”.

What does an LPN do?

LPNs provide health care for the promotion, maintenance and restoration of health with a focus on clients with stable and predictable states of health. They assess health status, plan, implement and evaluate care and coordinate health services. LPNs care for people of all ages and work in acute care hospitals, residential facilities, communities, homes, clinics, and public health. LPNs work as part of a health care team. They provide some aspects of care independently and some aspects require an order from an authorized health professional.

How do LPNs keep their skills up to date?

To renew their registration each year LPNs must meet BCCNP’s registration requirements which include working at least 1125 hours as an LPN in the preceding 5 years, completing a jurisprudence exam every three years, and meeting BCCNP’s standards of practice.

What happens when I first visit an LPN?

All LPNs in BC are held to BCCNP’s standards of practice. At each encounter, you can expect an LPN to provide safe, competent, and ethical nursing care using foundational knowledge, critical thinking, and clinical judgment.

How can I find an LPN?

Most LPNs work in long term care or acute care hospitals. To find out if an LPN is registered in B.C. check BCCNP’s public registry.

How do I pay for an LPN?

Most LPNs are employed through health authorities which are funded by the government. Some LPNs, such as those who provide foot care, are self-employed and you pay them directly.

What if I have concerns about the care I received from an LPN?

BCCNP’s mandate is to protect the public through the regulation of LPNs. You have the right to expect safe, competent and ethical care from an LPN. If you have a concern or a complaint about an LPN, please visit How to Submit a Complaint.

Where can I find more information about LPNs?

Visit BCCNP’s website.

Doctor checking woman's blood pressure in exam room smiling

Group of doctors talking about a patient's care. Patient is in the foreground.

nursing home