On This Page

Updating RPN competencies and exam

We’re working with nine other provincial/territorial regulators of practical nurses in Canada to develop a consistent national approach to the entry-level competencies of RPNs (called Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) in some other jurisdictions). This national initiative will improve the mobility of RPN labour across the country by ensuring that all RPNs, regardless of where they initially registered to practise in Canada, possess the same entry-level competencies needed to provide safe care. It keeps the public’s interest and safety at the forefront.

On February 15, 2018, through their collaboration as part of the Canadian Council of Practical Nurse Regulators (CCPNR), the group issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to find a third-party provider to assist with the project’s three steps:

Step 1:  A comprehensive analysis of RPN entry-level practice: This analysis will provide an overview of practical nursing practice across Canada and identify any changes and differences among jurisdictions.

Step 2:  National entry competencies: Entry competencies for RPNs vary across the country, but should be consistent. With the support of subject matter experts across the country, we’ll use what we learned from the entry-level practice analysis in Step 1 and other evidence to update the required entry- level competencies of RPNs.

Step 3:  Regulatory exam: We’ll then develop a new RPN exam using some of the competencies (not all competencies can be tested using a computer-based examination as they are best evaluated in a clinical setting). We want to create an exam that considers current examination test practices and evidence. We haven’t made any commitment that this new exam will be computer adaptive, as the NCLEX-RN is. 

We hope to have a vendor in place in 2018 to begin helping with this project. Our initial goal is to administer the new pan-Canadian examination by 2022. 

We’ve been speaking with Ontario educators of practical nurse programs about our plans, and soliciting their early feedback on the timeline they’ll need in order to incorporate any revised competencies and exam format into a new curriculum. We’ve also been engaging with other stakeholders and will continue to do so throughout the project.. 

For the latest updates on this and other initiatives that may impact educators and students, please see the Educator webpage and the “Meeting Minutes” section of the Academic Reference Group page of this website. Your feedback is always welcome.

Page last reviewed February 15, 2018