Advance Your Career with the Practical Nursing Access Program!


nurse in a uniform with a patient

Are you thinking about going back to school? Are you currently a Health Care Assistant (HCA) or Resident Care Aide (RCA)? Are you looking for more growth in your career?

Sprott Shaw’s Practical Nursing Access program is the perfect opportunity for people who want to advance their careers in the healthcare industry.

If you’re a practicing HCA or RCA, you may qualify for our Practical Nursing Access (PNA) program that allows you to become a practical nurse in just over a year.

What Does a Licensed Practical Nurse Do?

Before we talk about the Practical Nursing Access program, what does a practical nurse even do? Why would you want to become one? 

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are healthcare providers who offer nursing services to patients in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, community environments, residential areas, and home care settings. As an integral part of the healthcare team, practical nurses work with doctors, physicians, registered nurses (RNs), and registered practical nurses (RPNs) to make sure that the needs of patients are met and catered to.

Amidst a multitude of responsibilities, licensed practical nurses use their knowledge, judgement, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills to provide safe, competent, and ethical care to patients.  

On a daily basis, some of the responsibilities and duties that licensed practical nurses execute include:

  • Providing nursing care in acute, geriatric, and home care settings
  • Assessing and monitoring patients in various healthcare settings
  • Helping patients with daily living activities including personal care
  • Applying aseptic techniques (including sterile dressing) and carrying out infection control
  • Administering patients with medication and monitoring their effectiveness
  • Documenting assessments and reporting progress
  • Taking vital signs and collecting specimen samples
  • Performing examinations in consultation with doctors, registered nurses, and therapists
  • Educating patients and family members on health-related issues
  • Assisting in rehabilitation activities

What Is Sprott Shaw’s Practical Nursing Access Program?

Now that you know what a practical nurse is and does, we can start talking about the access program and how you can become a practical nurse yourself!

Portrait of a beautiful Hispanic doctor examining a patient in the emergency room and making eye contact

Sprott Shaw’s Practical Nursing Access (PNA) program is a full-time diploma program available for people with previous education, training, and/or experience in the healthcare field as either a practicing Health Care Assistant or Resident Care Aide. (Please note that in order to qualify as a practicing HCA or RCA, you need to have 600 hours of work experience within the last two years in a care facility where care is provided to a group of gerontological clients).

Essentially, this bridging program trains students to provide nursing care in partnership with other healthcare professionals. Moreover, students from any educational institution can apply for our PNA program.

However, the key question still remains. Why should you take our PNA program?

For one, our program helps get you from school to career faster. The PNA program builds upon your previous working experience and allows you to take what would be a 75-week program in 61 weeks. Through this, you save time (and money!) spent in school and can get to working as a practical nurse faster.

Sprott Shaw’s PNA program also encompasses several other advantageous features including:

  • Licensing exam preparation and study guides for the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration (CPNRE) exam at no additional charge 
  • Career and professional development success courses to help create a career development marketing plan, learn the cardinal rules of professionalism, and identify the target markets and employment resources for the healthcare industry 
  • Preparation and orientation courses to teach you how to find credible research, write papers, create proper citation formats including APA, and study effectively for exams
  • Prerequisite certificates including First-Aid Basic Life Support (BLS), FoodSafe, and Nonviolent Crisis Intervention (NVCI)
  • Access to dedicated Employment Services Specialists (ESS) who can help you with resume and cover letter writing, interview skills, and the overall job search after graduation
  • Preceptorship, clinical, and practicum opportunities with health authorities across BC including Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health Authority, Island Health, Northern Health, and Interior Health Authority
Laid Down Young Female Patient Talking To Male Nurse In Emergency Room

The preceptorship and clinical practicum opportunities allow our students to gain relevant field experience before graduation at health authorities and institutions across the province and potentially become hired full-time there. Sprott Shaw students have received acute and long-term experiences at various recognized organizations including BC Cancer Agency, North Shore Hospice, Correctional Health Services, Good Samaritan Society, and Revera Living Incorporated where students can be placed in one of 175 homes and residencies across Canada.  

Our Practical Nursing Access program is based on the BC College of Nursing Professionals (BCCNP) Standards of Practice Framework, which includes the Scope of Practice Standards, Professional Standards, and the Practice Standards.

This program also prepares graduates to provide nursing care in partnership with other health care professionals. Graduates will be able to care for selected clients chosen on the basis of acuity and complexity in a variety of settings.

After completion of the Practical Nursing Access program (and of course, the regular Practical Nursing program), students can take the CPNRE exam to become certified. Students who pass this national exam will be certified as Licensed Practical Nurses who are able to provide safe, competent, dependable, and ethical nursing care to patients.

What Is the Difference Between the Practical Nursing and Practical Nursing Access Program?

At Sprott Shaw, we offer both the Practical Nursing (PN) and Practical Nursing Access (PNA) program. So, why would you take one over the other? What’s the difference between the two?

Essentially, both programs lead you to eventually becoming a licensed practical nurse. The key difference, however, is on the career path and journey you’re seeking. 

If you’ve recently graduated high school or are a mature student who knows that you want to pursue a career as a practical nurse, the direct Practical Nursing program will best fit your needs.

Male Doctor Examining Male Patient With Knee Pain

If you’re debating on whether you want to become a health care assistant or practical nurse, you can take the Health Care Assistant program and after a few years of work experience, return to take the Practical Nursing Access program to become a practical nurse.

If you’re currently a practicing health care assistant or resident care aide looking to advance your career, the Practical Nursing Access program will best fit your needs. As a working health care assistant or resident care aide, your education, experience and knowledge qualify you to apply for the PNA program directly. With the PNA program, you can reduce the amount of time you need to study to become a licensed practical nurse.

Interested in learning more about the Practical Nursing Access program or finding out if you qualify for it? Contact one of our advisors below for more information!

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