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Working as a Licensed Practical Nurse [NOC 3233]

Job Description

Licensed practical nurses are health care professionals. You provide nursing care under the direction of medical practitioners and under the supervision of registered nurses.

As a licensed practical nurse, you perform the following duties:

  • Take patients’ temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rate
  • Perform routine laboratory tests and collect samples of blood and urine to be tested for diseases
  • Monitor patient diets
  • Give medication and record therapeutic effects
  • Provide personal and comfort care before and after an operation
  • Dress wounds and apply bandages
  • Check on respiratory and intravenous therapy
  • Keep a watchful eye on patients, observing them and consulting with other members of the health care team when necessary
  • Provide safety and health education to individuals and their families

Sources: WorkBC Career Profile 3233]Career Cruising (Profile for Practical Nurse)

Industry Overview

There is a need for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) across B.C. The province’s growing and aging population will continue to increase future demand.

Job opportunities are higher in regions with more long-term care facilities or larger hospitals such as Metro Vancouver, Victoria, and the Okanagan.

You may find new openings for LPNs in specialty areas, such as emergency and paediatric wards, and operating rooms. LPNs are taking on increased responsibilities to provide better patient outcomes and to improve the use of nursing staff. The range of options for LPNs has expanded to include mental health, community and pharmacology studies.

Your job prospects may be better if you complete an immunization certification course and the leadership post certificate course.

Job Outlook in BC

job outlook for licensed practical nurses

Chart from WorkBC

The Employment Outlook for British Columbia provides job openings projections for Licensed Practical Nurses within BC regions:

Region 2010
Estimated Employment
2015
Estimated Employment
Average Annual % Change, 5 Years, 2010-2015
Vancouver Island 1,500 1,690 2.5%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 2,520 2,800 2.2%
Thompson-Okanagan 750 840 2.4%
Kootenay 210 240 3.2%
Cariboo 220 270 4.0%
North Coast & Nechako 130 150 3.2%
Northeast 80 100 4.2%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. [accessed October 2014]

You can learn more about working in BC from the following sources:

Types of Employers

Licensed practical nurses work in many settings including:

  • hospitals
  • nursing homes
  • extended care facilities
  • rehabilitation centres
  • doctors’ offices
  • clinics and community health centres
  • private residences
  • educational facilities

Salary

The average salary for licensed practical nurses working full-time in BC is between $44,000 and $53,000 a year.

You may belong to a union. This means that your wage rates and benefits are negotiated by union representatives on your behalf.

Job Bank Canada provides hourly wages for Licensed Practical Nurses in BC regions:

licensed practical nurse regional wage

Source: Job Bank Canada

In addition to your salary, full-time LPNs usually receive benefits, such as paid sick days, vacation time, and dental coverage.

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Working Hours

You typically work 8- to 12-hour shifts, usually on rotation, including weekends, evenings and holidays.

Skills, Education and Experience

Skills

  • excellent communication skills
  • strong problem-solving skills
  • good observation skills
  • ability to handle high levels of stress associated with emergencies and medical conditions
  • ability to cope with the emotional aspects of working with the sick, injured and terminally ill, as well as patients’ families
  • must be able to work well in a team
  • ability to follow strict guidelines to prevent infection and injury
  • patience and self-control

Sources: WorkBC & Career Cruising

Education and Experience

To work as a licensed practical nurse you require:

Qualifications

This occupation is regulated in British Columbia.

To work as a LPN in British Columbia you must be registered with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of BC (CLPNBC).

CLPNBC provides the following types of registration:

  • Full Registration
    • Graduated from an approved Practical Nurse education program, or equivalent
    • Passed the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination – CPNRE
  • Limited Registration
    • Granted one time only
    • One year to satisfy all educational or experience requirements
  • Interim Registration
    • Granted one time only
    • Graduated from a recognized Practical Nurse or educational equivalent program
    • Applied to write the next Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Examination (CPNRE) for the first time
    • Can practice as an LPN while preparing to write the CPNRE
  • Non-Practicing Registration
    • cannot practice or work as an LPN; can use the title LPN

For more information on registration see:

Internationally Educated Nurses

If you were educated as a nurse outside of Canada you may be eligible to register as a licensed practical nurse in British Columbia.

This involves the following steps:

  • apply to the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS)
  • submit the required documents in order to complete an assessment of your education and nursing practice
  • demonstrate English language proficiency
  • complete a criminal history record search
  • you may be asked to complete a competency assessment of your nursing knowledge and practice
  • successfully write the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE®)

For more information see:

Finding Jobs

You’ll find job advertisements in local newspapers, trade journals, and electronic sources, as well as through professional associations’ publications.

Local Newspapers

You can look at the Vancouver Sun & The Province at Vancouver Public Library for free. Check the job postings daily and the careers section in the Vancouver Sun on Wednesdays and Saturdays and in The Province on Sundays.

Job White Pages

NOTE: You can only access this database from the Central Library or VPL branch libraries. Access is NOT available from home or outside the Library.

Online Job Postings

  • BC’s Provincial Health Authorities
    BC’s health authorities provide health services to British Columbians in all BC regions
  • Indeed.com

    Find jobs posted on a multitude of company career sites and job boards

Professional Associations’ Career Resources

Identifying the Right Position

When you browse job advertisements, you’ll find a range of different job titles that are relevant.

For licensed practical nurses look for these related job titles (from NOC):

  • Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
  • Licensed Nursing Assistant
  • Operating Room Technician
  • Registered Nursing Assistant (R.N.A.)
  • Registered Practical Nurse (R.P.N.)

Creating a List of Potential Employers

You can use directories to produce lists of employers in the nursing and healthcare sector in Vancouver or the Lower Mainland. Contact them directly to find out if they’re hiring.

  • Directory of Canadian healthcare personnel
    Available at the Central Library
    362.11025 C21a
  • Guide to Canadian health care facilities
    Available at the Central Library
    362.105 C212ca
  • Reference Canada
    Click on “Start Search” beside Canadian Businesses, then select the “Advanced Search” button.
    Select both “Keyword/SIC/NAICS” under Business Type and “City” under Geography.
    In the top search box enter “health care” and click LOOKUP.
    Select the appropriate headings.
    Lower down, select the Province, choose the cities, and click the “View Results” button.
    NOTE: You can access this database from a Library computer. If you are using a computer from outside the Library, you will need a Vancouver Public Library card to login to this database. After clicking on the database name, you will be asked to enter your library card number and PIN (usually last four digits of your telephone number).

Applying for a Job

In Canada, employers usually expect to receive a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter. These should identify the position you are applying for and summarize your relevant experience.

Use the library catalogue, to find books on writing resumes and cover letters specific to your industry.

To learn about applying for jobs in Canada, use the following guides which are available in print at the Central Library or online:

Getting Help from Industry Sources

Industry Associations

Associations for licensed practical nurses in BC and Canada can provide information and assistance. Registration and fees are required for membership.

  • Hospital Employees Union
    The Hospital Employees’ Union represents 43,000 members in BC including Licensed Practical Nurses.

Industry Journals

Search the Vancouver Public Library catalogue for journals related to your profession. Examples include:

  • Update
    British Columbia Nurses’ Union (BCNU)