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All About Registered Practical Nurses (RPN) in Canada

May 6, 2024

Registered practical nurses (RPNs) are the healthcare professionals most people dream of being. They provide direct patient care in a variety of settings, including hospitals and community care agencies. They also work under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs), nurse practitioners (NPs), and physicians and are responsible for performing a range of clinical duties necessary to maintain a functional health care system.

In this article, we will tackle the things that are involved among registered practical nurses (RPNs), including the certifications and license requirements for RPNs in Canada, the tasks, skills, education, experience, and the types of RPNs out there. This article also includes the settings where RPNs can work and how RPNs can write a good resume to land their dream setting or company.

What are Practical Nurses?

A Registered Practical Nurse (RPN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) in Canada is a healthcare professional who provides nursing care under the direction of and in collaboration with medical practitioners, registered nurses (including nurse practitioners, registered psychiatric nurses, and other types of nurses) or other healthcare professionals. RPNs/LPNs are trained to assess patients, administer medications, monitor vital signs, provide wound care, and assist with various medical procedures, but are usually assigned to less complex cases compared to RNs.

Still, they're valued members of the healthcare team, delivering compassionate and skilled nursing care to patients in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics, and community health organizations.

In Canada, the term "Registered Practical Nurse" (RPN) is commonly used in the province of Ontario, while the term "Licensed Practical Nurse" (LPN) is more commonly used in the western provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia. Despite the different titles, RPNs and LPNs perform similar roles and functions in providing nursing care to patients within their respective healthcare systems.

How to Become an LPN/RPN in Canada

To become a registered practical nurse (RPN) in Canada, you need to complete your nursing education from a recognized practical nursing program, which awards a certification or diploma upon completion and typically takes 1-2 years to complete. You may also need to have some related experience in healthcare or customer service.

After completing the program, you will need to register and complete a registration exam, such as the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE), with the corresponding regulatory body in the province or territory where you want to practice. Here are the regulatory bodies in each Canadian province or territory that look over the practice of nursing, including the required standards and competencies to be met for licensure. Here are also the corresponding job titles for a practical nurse in each region:

Can IENs become LPNs/RPNs in Canada?

Yes, Internationally Educated Nurses (IENs) can become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) in Canada. To do so, they need to go through a registration process that includes various steps, such as applying for registration, completing a credential assessment, an English language proficiency assessment (if needed), and a registration exam.

The regulatory body in each province assesses most IEN applications for LPN and RN registration at the same time. Once the application is reviewed and all requirements are met, the IENs can be granted provisional registration and become eligible to take the relevant registration exam.

Related: Can Foreign Nurses Work in Canada?

Related: Bridging Program for Internationally Educated Nurses

Duties and Responsibilities of LPNs/RPNs

LPNs/RPNs in Canada have a wide range of duties and responsibilities, including the following:

A list summarizing the duties and responsibilities of RPNs.

While LPNs/RPNs often work under the supervision of registered nurses and other healthcare professionals, the level of supervision can vary based on the specific healthcare setting, the complexity of the patient's condition, and the regulations of the province or territory.

LPNs/RPNs are trained to work independently within their scope of practice, and they may have opportunities to exercise a significant degree of autonomy in their nursing care responsibilities, particularly in long-term care settings and community health organizations.

Skills that LPNs/RPNs are Expected to Have

Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) require a combination of technical and interpersonal skills to perform their duties and responsibilities exceptionally and succeed in their roles. Some of the key skills required for RPN jobs include:

A practical nurse studying a patient's chart.

As mentioned, in addition to technical skills, successful Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) require soft skills as well. These skills are not necessarily taught in nursing school but are vital to fulfilling the duties that come with the role. Among the useful soft skills for registered practical nurses are as follows:

Job Prospects and Salary for RPN/LPN in Canada

Practical nurses can expect good to very good job prospects across all provinces and territories in Canada over the next three years, and they're considerably in demand. In fact, there's a foreseeable labour shortage between 2022 and 2031, with new job openings expected to be at 27,800 versus the 26,300 new job seekers expected to fill them. Prevailing wages for practical nurses are also good, with a median hourly salary of $29 per hour nationally, and can go as high as $38 per hour depending on the province or territory and other factors that can affect such rates.

Where to Find LPN/RPN Jobs in Canada

Registered Practical Nurses (RPNs) can work and render their healthcare services in a variety of settings, including:

To find jobs within these healthcare settings and start or progress in your practical nursing career, you may consider doing the following:

Land your next practical nursing job at Caring Support.

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About The Author
Kate Piamonte
Content Writer

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