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About licensed practical nurses

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) work independently or in collaboration with other members of a health care team. LPNs assess clients and work in health promotion and illness prevention. They assess, plan, implement and evaluate care for clients.

They work in a variety of practice settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, community health centres and doctors’ offices.

Data availability

CIHI's Health Workforce Database (HWDB) collects standardized, comparative data on the supply, demographics, geographic and distribution characteristics, and education and employment details of LPNs in Canada.

Reports and analyses

Regulatory environment

In Canada, LPNs are regulated in all 13 provinces and territories.ii

Practice criteria

To practise as an LPN in Canada, an individual must obtain a licence from an LPN regulatory authority in Canada. The requirements to obtain a licence are similar across the country but can vary slightly from one jurisdiction to another.ii 

Common requirements

  • Graduate from an approved practical nursing program or equivalent.ii
  • Pass the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE)
  • Register with a provincial/territorial regulatory body

Scope of practice

The scope of practice for LPNs is articulated in provincial/territorial regulatory legislation, which outlines the range of responsibilities that define the boundaries of professional practice.

LPNs provide and coordinate care for individuals, families and groups in a variety of settings and with a variety of health professionals. They can work with clients of varying complexity, recognizing when consultation and collaboration with other health professionals is required.

LPNs complete a post-secondary nursing program at the college level that usually takes 2 years. The program for generalist LPNs contains nursing theory and clinical instruction in both medical and surgical nursing. Their education is based on nursing theory, and they studyiii

  • Physical and biological sciences
  • Professional ethics
  • Psychology
  • Therapeutic relationships

i. LPNs are referred to as registered practical nurses (RPNs) in Ontario.
ii. Canadian Council for Practical Nurse Regulators. Become an LPN/RPN. Accessed on February 12, 2016.
iii. National Nursing Assessment Service. How to apply. Accessed on February 26, 2016.