Practical Nurse

CPNRE Prep Course

Columbia College is now offering a CPNRE prep course. Click here for details.

One of the Best Colleges in Canada

The above graph compares the passing rate of Columbia College Practical Nurse graduates with the passing rate of Practical Nurse students from Colleges across Canada on the May 21, 2015 Canadian Licensed Practical Nurse Registration Examination.

This exam must be passed by any individual who wishes to work as a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada.

Columbia College is excited to share that 100% of our graduates who wrote this national exam passed.


Employment Opportunities

Graduates of this program work in a variety of settings which include: acute care centres, continuing care facilities, assisted living facilities, doctors’ offices and in the community providing homecare. The starting salary for Practical Nurses can be up to $62,000 per year.


Practical Nurses perform nursing assessments, provide nursing care and implement prescribed medical treatments. You will participate in classroom instruction, skills development in the lab, and practicum experience in continuing care, acute care, and a specialty setting.

Upon successful completion of the program and the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam (CPNRE), you are eligible for licensure with the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA). This is a Nationally Accredited program. When you graduate from our program, you will be eligible to be licensed in any province in Canada.

Columbia College’s Practical Nurse program is licensed through Alberta Government Private Vocational Training Branch and is approved by the College of Licensed Practical Nurses (CLPNA) through its Education Standards Advisory Committee (ESAC) which is the licensing body for practical nursing in the province of Alberta.

Learn more about becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada by viewing the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta’s document: Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse in Canada – Requisite Skills and Abilities.

Graduation/Employment Success

2014 – 2015: 77% Graduation Rate
2014 – 2015: 100% Employment Rate

Program Description

  • 2 year diploma program that is completed in 65 consecutive weeks, full-time (approximately 16 months).
  • Full time, Part-time and course-by-course options.
  • Designed to give students Practical Nursing theory and clinical experience in continuing care, acute care, and a specialty such as maternal, child, and community care
  • Academic classes during the day, Monday through Friday. Saturday classes or labs may be required.
  • Practicums (clinical) will be scheduled according to the co-operating health care employer’s availability of clinical practicum placements. This means that the 722 hours of practical experience may be scheduled during the day, evening, night and/or weekends.
  • Clinical placements may need to be scheduled in alternative locations. The College may be required to delay the date of completion until a clinical placement can be arranged.
  • In the lab, the facilitator to student ratio is 1:12. In the practicum, the facilitator to student ratio is 1:8. In the classroom, the class sizes are approximately 18-20 students.
  • Classes are generally scheduled between 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Monday to Friday. Saturday classes and labs are also possible.

University Transfer and Credit Transfer

Graduates of this program may be accepted into Athabasca University’s Bachelor of Nursing Program 30 block credits.

Some transfer credit is available from:

  • Bow Valley College
  • Grant MacEwan University
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Mount Royal University
  • Prairie College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Red Deer College

Admission Requirements

  • A high school diploma is not required. A student may enter as a mature student.
  • A student may meet entry requirements in any of the following ways:
    • English 30-1 with minimum final mark of 60% or 70% in English 30-2 or equivalent
    • Math 20-1 with minimum final mark of 50% or 60% in Math 20-2 or equivalent
    • Biology 30 with minimum final mark of 60% or equivalent
    • Medical Terminology course with minimum final grade of 80%
    • OR

    • Apply as a mature student and have successful results on Columbia College’s Assessment.
    • OR

    • Apply for admission to Columbia College’s Pre-PN – Preparation for the Practical Nurse Program. See Pre-PN Program information. This program is Alberta Human Services grant eligible.
  • All students, regardless of path of entry, must achieve satisfactory results on the Columbia College Assessment that evaluates the current status of reading comprehension, writing, and math.
  • Admissions interview(s) to determine suitability for the profession and opportunity for success in the program.

Pre-Entry Requirement

  • Clear Current Police Information Check (PIC) with Vulnerable Sector Check. Application for a PIC must be made through the Calgary Police Service Police Information Check Unit unless the applicant has lived in Calgary for less than one year. Then the PIC must be obtained from the previous province or country. A PIC must be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the first day of classes. Students may not be eligible for practicum or licensure with the College of Practical Nurses if they have a criminal record.
  • Completion of a Health Questionnaire (fit to practice) by a physician to attest to an applicant’s health status regarding the ability to complete their program and practice in the profession.

Pre-Practicum Requirements

The following requirements must be met prior to the first day of practicum or the student will not be allowed to participate in a practicum placement.

  • Current CPR Healthcare Provider Level Certificate – Must be updated every 12 months.
  • Standard First Aid Certificate including Heart and Stroke.
  • Up-to-date immunizations. Details will be provided during the admissions process.
  • N95 Mask Testing

Other Admission Considerations

  • Readiness for this Profession: You must be able to work shifts and weekends, be on your feet for long periods of time, be in good health, able to use your knees, back and arms to move clients who may have minimal body strength, provide personal care to both men and women, and wear a uniform that has short sleeves.
  • Do your academic skills need to be upgraded to meet admission entry requirements?
    If your academic skills need to be improved in one or more areas, the student may be referred to Columbia College’s Intensive Academic Preparation – College Prep. See Continuing Education – Intensive Academic Preparation – College Prep.
  • English Proficiency Requirement
    For applicants whose first language is not English, please refer to the English Language Proficiency Requirements section.
  • Do you have courses to transfer from another college or university?
    If you have taken courses at another college or university, these courses may be transferable to this diploma program.
  • There are no additional selection requirements. Admission is offered on a first-qualified, first-accepted basis. A waitlist may be established. Columbia College reserves the right to grant or refuse admission to any applicant.

Students Transferring from another Practical Nurse Program
Columbia College will assess the student’s request for Transfer Credit. Please speak to the Admissions Advisor for further information.

Students wishing to transfer will also be required to pass Columbia College’s entry assessment to ensure that the student has the required skills in reading comprehension, writing, and math to be successful in the program. Completion of a Medical Terminology course will be required.

Clinical Experience

Students will be required to travel to various locations in order to complete their clinical and practicum placements. Clinical and practicum placements will be provided as available. Every effort is made to accommodate students in clinical placements within the time frame of the program, however in rare instances there may be a delay in program completion until a clinical placement can be arranged.

Student Handbook

Please click here to view the Orientation Manual for the Practical Nurse program for January 2016.

Course List and Descriptions

For a full list of courses and course descriptions for this program, please click here.

Tuition Fees

Columbia College’s tuition and general fees come into effect August 1 of each year.

For more information about tuition and the Columbia College Tuition chart, please see the Tuition and Fees page.

Additional Fees
A student may incur additional fees that are not part of the tuition or the book fees for this program. These fees are an approximation.

Additional Fees:
Uniforms and duty shoes: $300
First Aid and Heart and Stroke CPR for Health Care Providers: $180
CPNRE: $700
Immunizations: $240

Refund of Tuition Fees

Please refer to the Student Contract of Tuition form for details of tuition refund policy. This form is available from this program’s Student Admission Advisor.

Start Dates

May 24, 2016
September 6, 2016

How to Register

For details on applying or reapplying to this program, please refer to the Admissions page.

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from this program, students must successfully complete all 26 Practical Nurse Courses with a G.P.A. of 2.3.

Board of Advisors

Grace Afolabi :Practical Nurse Program Alumni
Darla Dickson: Practice Education Consultant Academic Student Relationship, Health Professions, Strategy and Practice Alberta Health Services
Catherine Kettlewell: Education lead , Brenda Stratford Foundation
Cindy Rota: General Manager/Vice President of Operations Whitehorn Village
Glenda Tarnowski: Practice Consultant, CLPNA

For more information…

For more information, please Contact Us

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