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Types of nurses

There are different types of nurses in B.C. Each category of nurse brings specialized knowledge and skills to health care teams and workplaces. The British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) regulates:

Employed student nurses & employed student psychiatric nurses

The following applies only to bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) students and employed student psychiatric nurses.

In British Columbia, if an employed student registrant or an employed student psychiatric nurse is employed in a health care setting and carrying out nursing activities, they must hold employed student registration with BCCNM They must work under the supervision of a named registered nurse or registered psychiatric nurse.

Employed student registrants and employed student psychiatric nurses must be enrolled in good standing in an entry-level nursing or psychiatric nursing education program during the employment period.

Licensed graduate nurses (LGN)

​License​​d Graduate Nurses (LGN) are a class of nurses granted LGN registration in B.C. prior to Oct. 1, 1990. An LGN registrant may perform or provi​de services as if he or she is a registered nurse registrant.​

Licensed practical nurses (LPN)

​LPNs are health care professionals. Most work as frontline nurses caring for a wide range of clients at all stages of life. LPNs provide nursing services ranging from health pr​omotion, to acute care, to long-term and palliative care.

LPNs work in collaboration with other members of the health care team. Their education and practice — while rooted in the same body of knowledge as other nurses — focuses on foundational competencies within the LPN  scope of practice and ​standards.

Nurse practitioners (NP)

Nurse practitioners (NP) were first regulated in B.C. in 2005. NPs must meet advanced requirements to register as NPs and use the NP title. These nursing professionals are educated in a master's program.

Nurse practitioner​​s:

  • are primary care providers

  • are regulated for reasons of public safety and to support a sustainable health care system

  • bring the nursing focus of teaching, counseling and support to the diagnostic and treatment they provide

  • work in many practice settings and within a flexible regulatory system that pr​​ovides strong educational preparation, rigorous registration requirements, and rigorous practice oversight

In B.C. there are three 'streams' that NP​​​s can be registered in:

  • family — infants to older adults
  • adult — adults and older adults
  • pediatrics — infants to adolescents​
Registered nurses (RN)

​​BCCNM sets the entry level requirements for anyone applying for registration as an RN in B.C. This means that the c​ollege works with universitie​​s and colleges to review their nursing education programs so that anyone studying to become a registered nurse will be prepared to pass the required registration exam.

To become registered in British Columbia a person must have completed a baccalaureate​ nursing education program, met competence requirements, passed the registration exam and consented to a criminal record check.

Nursing abilities are based in four categories: 

  • Professional Responsibility and Accountability 
  • Self-Regulation 
  • Knowledge-based Practice 
  • Client-Focused Provision of Service
  • Ethical Practice  ​

The client is the person central to a​​ll nursing practice.

Registered nurses with certified practice (RN-C)

BCCNM-certified practices are carried out independently and the RN is solely accountable for the diagnosis and treatment of the client.

RNs who successfully complete a certified practice course and evaluation approved by BCCNM must then apply to BCCNM for certified-practice designation. In addition, to remain on the register, nurses must annually meet the continuing competence requirements for certified practice.

With BCCNM-certification an RN can diagnose some diseases and disorders and carry out some restricted activities independently that would otherwise require an order.

Categories of certified practice:

  • Remote Nursing Practice — these RNs work in communities where there is no resident physician or nurse practitioner. Physicians or nurse practitioners visit the community periodically and are available to provide consultation to the registered nurse. 
  • Reproductive Health, Contraceptive Management — these RNs work in a variety of health care settings providing safe assessment, provision and management of Combined Hormonal Contraception (CHC) and Progestin-only Hormonal Contraception (POC).
  • Reproductive Health, Sexually Transmitted Infections — RNs with this certified practice designation diagnose and treat various sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
  • RN First Call — These RNs are commonly seen in small acute care hospitals, diagnostic and treatment centres and other settings where there is physician or Nurse Practitioner (NP) service available in the community.
Registered psychiatric nurses (RPN)

​Registered psychiatric nurses are nurses whose education and practice have a focus on psychosocial, mental or emotional health. They care for people of all ages experiencing issues related to mental health, substance use or​ behavioural addictions. RPNs have advanced mental health assessment and intervention skills.

BCCNM sets the entry–level requirements for anyone applying for registration as an RPN in B.C. This means that the college works with universities and co​​​lleges to review their psychiatric nursing education programs so that anyone studying to become a registered psychiatric nurse will be prepared to pass the required registration exam.

To become registered in British Columbia a person must have completed a psychiatric nursing education program, met competence require​ments, passed the registration exam and consented to a criminal record check.

Nursing abilities are based in seven categories: 
  • therapeutic relationships and therapeutic use of self
  • evidence-informed knowledge
  • collaborative practice
  • advocacy 
  • quality care and client safety
  • health promotion
  • ethical, professional and legal and responsibilities​
The client is the person central to all nursing practice.​​