Practical Nursing

Program Description

The Diploma in Practical Nursing at Northern Lights College follows the new provincial curriculum as revised in 2017. The program is designed to provide learners with the knowledge, skills, judgments, and attitudes to perform to the full range of competencies as endorsed by the British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives (BCCNM).

The curriculum provides a learning experience that is integrated, professional, collaborative, and culturally sensitive, with an aim to prepare graduates to care for individuals (and families of individuals) at multiple life stages and in a variety of practice settings.

Consistent with the CLPNBC Scope of Practice: Standards, Limits and Conditions (2021), the focus for beginners' practice is “promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health, with a focus on clients with stable and predictable states of health."

Upon successful completion of the program, learners will possess the competencies to successfully complete the Regulatory Exam - Practical Nurse (REx-PN) (replaces the Canadian Practical Nurse Regulatory Exam (CPNRE).

To gain an understanding of the requisite skills and abilities associated with Licensed Practical Nursing in Canada, please see Becoming a Practical Nurse in Canada: Requisite Skills and Abilities. 

Career Prospects

Licensed Practical Nurses work with other interprofessional, health care team members in a variety of settings and play an increasingly wide role in primary health care focusing on health promotion, illness and injury prevention, and health protection and restoration.


Location: Classroom and Laboratory contact hours are scheduled in the Health Sciences Building in Dawson Creek.  As noted above, clinical learning experiences may occur in a variety of settings, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd, and perhaps Fort Nelson.  Efforts will be made to place students in convenient clinical locations, but all students should be prepared for in-region travel. Transportation, meals, and accommodation are the responsibility of the student. After a clinical or preceptorship site is assigned by the Program Chair and instructor, no changes are permitted.

Length: 1850 hours (67 weeks)

Start: September

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Admission Prerequisites

1. Grade 12 graduation, or equivalent (General Educational Development, Adult Basic Education), or mature student status.
2. English: any one of the following with a minimum grade of (C+) 67%: English Studies 12, English 12, English Literature 12, English First Peoples 12, or equivalent. See below for applicants with English as an additional language.
3. Math: any one of the following with a minimum grade of (C) 60%: Foundations of Mathematics 11, Pre-Calculus 11, or equivalent. If the Math requirement is over 10 years old, NLC requires an 11.9 score on the numeracy sections of the CAAT (Number Operations and Problem Solving).
4. Biology: any one of the following with a minimum grade of(C) 60%: Anatomy and Physiology 12, Biology 12, or equivalent. The Biology requirement must have been completed within 10 years of application.
5. PNUR 099: Anatomy and Physiology for Practical Nurses (or an equivalent course at another institution) with a minimum grade of C+. The completion date for PNUR 099 or equivalent must be within five years of program initiation. Applicants may be granted conditional acceptance into the Practical Nursing Diploma program prior to completing PNUR 099 or equivalent. However, the PNUR 099 requirement must be successfully completed prior to the first day of classes in Semester 1.

Applicants with English as an additional language are defined as those who do not have three years of full-time, face-to-face, secondary or post-secondary education at an accredited institution where English is the medium of instruction in a country where English is also an official national language. English as a Second Language/Additional Language courses are not included in this three-year calculation. Such applicants must achieve scores identified in one of the two tests below:
1. International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with minimum scores of:
- Speaking: 7.0
- Listening: 7.5
- Reading: 6.5
- Writing: 7.0
- Overall Band Score: 7.0
2. Canadian English Language Benchmarks Assessment for Nurses (CELBAN) with minimum scores of:
- Speaking: 8.0
- Listening: 10.0
- Reading: 8.0
- Writing: 7.0

In addition to meeting English language admission requirements for the Provincial Practical Nursing Program, graduates who speak English as an additional language must be able to demonstrate performance-ready English proficiency as a condition for registration and practice in British Columbia. See BCCNP's website for further details.

The following three items must be completed by the first day of classes in Semester 1:
1. CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) as per Heart and Stroke Standards (initial Certification required and annual re-certification).
2. Schedule B Criminal Record Check (working with children and vulnerable adults) through the Ministry of Justice. Under no circumstances will students be permitted to begin a Consolidated Practice Experience until they have authorized a Schedule B CRC and the results have been reviewed by NLC. Convictions for certain offences may disqualify students from participation in practice experiences and program completion. The CRC application process may take 3 – 6 weeks to complete, so students are urged to attend to this matter at least 6 weeks before their program start date. Please see for instructions on how to complete a CRC. Furthermore, students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a CRC but are still enrolled in the Practical Nursing Program. Failure to do so may result in immediate dismissal from the program.
3. Immunizations as outlined in the Practice Education Guidelines ( A completed NLC Immunization Requirements Form is required on or before the first day of classes in Semester 1.
4. An annual flu shot and TB test are also required. Students must submit this documentation in October/November of each year.

1. Students in NLC's Practical Nursing program have an average of 28 hours of classes, laboratories, and other learning activities per week.  A comparable number of individual study hours is required.  Further, in clinical learning situations, students will be in close contact with individuals who have a variety of health issues.  For these reasons, students should be in a satisfactory level of physical and emotional health to ensure success in the program.
2. Clinical Learning experiences may occur in a variety of settings, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson. All students should be prepared for in-region travel.
3. Applicants wishing to transfer from another Practical Nursing Program must provide evidence that the above admission requirements have been meet. Applications for transfer credit will be reviewed on an individual basis. Transfer-based admission will be dependent on available space.
4. Students who do not meet program progression criteria and reapply for admission in a subsequent intake must satisfy the following two items:
a. Demonstrate that all current admission criteria have been met.
b. Provide evidence of completing any upgrading or re-entry requirements.
5. Attendance Requirements:
a. Consistent attendance is mandatory.
b. Absence for more than six (6) hours of theory classes per course will seriously jeopardize a student's ability to meet course objectives and may result in automatic failure of the course.
c. A student who is absent from a scheduled lab must complete a make up assignment as determined by the instructor.  Absence of more than six (6) hours of scheduled lab hours per course will seriously impair a student's ability to meet course objectives and may result in automatic failure of the course.
d. A student who is absent from a scheduled shift comprising a clinical, practicum, or preceptorship will not be provided with supplemental clinical experience.  Students absent for more than 15% of each experience will be required to withdraw from the program.
6. Daily Hours:
a. Classroom seminars and/or laboratory learning sessions may be scheduled until 2200 hours on some days.
b. Clinical learning experiences may involve some evening experiences lasting until 2300 hours.

Important Notes

  1. The program is eligible for Canada Student Loans. Visit StudentAid BC to apply for financial assistance online.  Note that dual credit students are not eligible for Student Aid.
  2. Clinical Learning experiences may occur in a variety of settings, including Dawson Creek, Fort St. John, Chetwynd, and Fort Nelson. All students should be prepared for in-region travel.
  3. Students must provide the following required supplies/materials: Stethoscope, Uniforms, lab coats(provided by NLC at cost), WCB approved safety/nursing shoes, and a watch with a second hand.
  4. A personal laptop is recommended for each student.
  5. The information on this program page is a summary of the official Program Completion Guide approved by NLC’s Education Council. Download a PDF of the Program Completion Guide.
  6. Program graduates are eligible for direct admission into the Justice Institute of British Columbia’s Advanced Specialty Certificate in Community Care Licensing.  

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