Practical Nursing

Program Description

The Diploma in Practical Nursing at Northern Lights College follows the current 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 Nursing & 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 BCCNM 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).

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.  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: Approximately 70-80 weeks/1850 hours

Start: September

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Admission Prerequisites

Prospective learners will need to complete a College “Application for Admission” Form. Admission forms can be obtained from the Northern Lights College (NLC) Student Services or downloaded in PDF format from: 
The following admission requirements reflect provincial standards mandated by the Practical Nursing Program Provincial Curriculum Guide Supplement:
1. Grade 12 graduation, or equivalent, or mature student status.
2. English: any one of the following with a minimum grade of (C+) 67%: English 12, or 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 course requirement is over ten years old or uncompleted, students can demonstrate the Math 11 equivalency by achieving an 11.9 score on the numeracy section of the CAAT Exam (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.
5. PNUR 099: Anatomy and Physiology for Practical Nurses (or an equivalent course at another institution) with a minimum grade of 65%. 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 its 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 BCCNM's website for further details.

The following six items must be completed and documented by the first day of classes in Semester 1:
1. Current CPR (Basic Life Support) certification as outlined in the Health Sciences Placement Network Practice Education Guidelines - Orientation - Students (
2. Immunizations as outlined in the Health Sciences Placement Network Practice Education Guidelines - Communicable Disease Prevention ( Please make an appointment with public health nurse immediately because immunization process can take anywhere from one to three months, sometimes longer.
3. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination as referenced in the Practice Education Guidelines - Communicable Disease Prevention (
4. Negative TB test indicating the absence of active tuberculosis.
5. N95 fit testing certification.
6. Schedule B Criminal Record Check (CRC) for working with "children and vulnerable adults." No student will be permitted to begin a workplace practicum with children or vulnerable adults until the CRC has been received and reviewed by NLC. Students are obligated to report any Schedule B criminal convictions that occur after they authorize a Criminal Record Check but are still enrolled in the program. Failure to do so may result in immediate dismissal from the program. Please apply for the CRC immediately because application process can take anywhere from three to six weeks.

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 various health issues.  For these reasons, students should be at a satisfactory level of physical and emotional health to ensure success in the program.
2. Applicants wishing to transfer from another Practical Nursing Program must provide evidence that the above admission requirements have been met. Applications for transfer credit will be reviewed on an individual basis. Transfer-based admission will be dependent on available space. 
3. 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.
4. 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 course failure.
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 course failure.
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.
5. 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. 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. Appropriate attire and shoes are necessary for lab courses and for clinical and preceptorship experiences. Students must purchase standardized program uniforms from the NLC Bookstore.
  3. A substantial amount of course and program resource materials is provided solely in electronic form. Minimum computer requirements are published on NLC's website. See
  4. 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.
  5. 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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