Access to Practical Nursing Diploma

Health Care Assistants (HCA) and Resident Care Attendants (RCA) can ladder into a new career as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). Gain skills, attitudes and judgment needed to perform in a career in health care, with learning experiences that are integrated, professional, collaborative and culturally sensitive.

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  • Kelowna
  • Vernon
  • Penticton
  • Salmon Arm
View schedule and campus details
  • Full program offered
  • Partial program offered



Delivery options

Tuition and fees

2023-24: $12,763.48

Program details

The Access to Practical Nursing program is designed to build upon the skillset of the Health Care Assistant (HCA) facilitating career transitions within healthcare environments. Students who have work experience and an HCA certificate, or equivalent, may apply to complete the Access to Practical Nursing Diploma program in 52 instructional weeks rather than the direct entry Practical Nursing Diploma program which is 62 instructional weeks.

The program will provide life-long learners with the knowledge, skills, judgments, and attitudes to perform the full range of competencies of the licensed practical nurse as identified by the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). The program provides a learning experience that is integrated, professional, collaborative and culturally sensitive. This will prepare graduates to provide frontline nursing care to individuals and families at all life stages and in a variety of practice settings.

Students will engage in learning activities that will further develop their skillset as practicing professionals working in collaboration with other members of the health care team. The program focuses on person-centered care, advocacy and critical thinking skills within the BCCNM scope of practice and standards. Students will progress through a combination of courses and clinical placements to prepare them for subsequent work as a practical nurse. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates will be eligible to write the regulatory exam for licensure in British Columbia.

Practical nurses work in a variety of nursing areas such as acute care, palliative care, community care and health promotion and education. Nurses often work together with other members of health care teams at walk-in clinics, hospitals, health centers and home environments.

Licensed practical nurses can specialize in one or more areas, such as: acute care, palliative care, community care, and health promotion and education. Nurses often work with other members of health-care teams, at walk-in clinics, hospitals, health centres and home environments.

Each semester, students will meet with their instructors for synchronous online theory Monday-Friday 0800-1500 for 7-10 weeks depending on the semester. They will need access to a computer, webcam and stable internet connection during this time.

In person lab Monday-Friday (times vary) in Kelowna or Vernon for 3-5 weeks depending on the semester.

Practicum experiences vary in days/times. Depending on where a student is registered, they must be prepared to travel anywhere between Penticton-Kelowna or Vernon-Salmon Arm.

Campus Start date Schedule
Kelowna Mar. 10, 2025
Penticton Mar. 10, 2025

Please see notes above regarding delivery times and location.

Salmon Arm Mar. 10, 2025

Please see notes above regarding delivery times and location.

Vernon Mar. 10, 2025

Admission requirements

  • A BC certificate in one of the following programs: Health Care Assistant (HCA), Resident Care Attendant (RCA) or Home Support/Resident Care Attendant (HS/RCA) or a current BC Care Aide Registry Number
  • Minimum 600 Hours of work experience, within the last two years, in a care facility where care is provided to a group of gerontology clients. Work experience must be verified by an official employer letter. Individualized home care experience is not acceptable.
  • B.C. secondary school graduation, or equivalent (ABE, GED), or mature student status.
  • English Requirement:
    • A minimum grade of 70% in one of: English 12 or equivalent, English First Peoples 12, or an equivalent Provincial Level Adult Basic Education English course.
  • English Language Requirement:
    • Three years of full-time, face-to-face secondary or post-secondary education at an accredited institution where English is the medium of instruction and is also one of the country's official languages. English as a Second Language/Additional Language courses are not included in this three-year calculation. Those not meeting this requirement must achieve scores identified in one of the two tests below:
    • 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
    • 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 requirements for the Practical Nursing program, graduates must be able to demonstrate a level of proficiency required to be performance ready as a condition for registration and practice in British Columbia. See BCCNM's website for details.
  • Mathematics Requirement:
    • A minimum of 67% in any of:
      • Pre-Calculus Grade 11
      • Foundations of Mathematics Grade 11
      • Principles of Mathematics 11
      • Adult Basic Education MATH 011
    • Or a minimum grade of 70% in one of:
      • Adult Basic Education IALG 011
      • Both Math 084 and MATH 085
  • Biology Requirement:
    • Both a minimum grade of 67% in a Grade 12 Biology course which includes human anatomy and physiology or Anatomy and Physiology 12 or an equivalent Provincial level Adult Basic Education Biology course.
    • And, a minimum grade of 70% in Pre-Practical Nursing Anatomy and Physiology (PNUR 113) course. Please note that Biology 12 is a prerequisite for PNUR 113.

Other Requirements:

  • CPR level "C"
  • A criminal record check clearance from the B.C. Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General's Criminal Records Review Office. Okanagan College's admission offices will provide applicants with instructions and forms for applicants to submit to the Solicitor General's Office and a deadline for the College to receive the clearance letter. Applicants should only initiate their criminal record check when instructed by Admissions. Failure to provide a clearance letter by the deadline will result in a cancellation of the applicant's admission application.
  • Either Red Cross Standard First Aid or St. John Ambulance Standard First Aid.
  • Negative TB skin test or chest x-ray no more than 6 months before the date of application or adequate follow-up in the case of a positive test

Student Transportation and Accommodation:

  • Student practicum placement sites are throughout North, Central and South Okanagan. Students must arrange their own transportation to and from practicum sites. In most cases, a driver's license and access to a reliable vehicle is required. While student preferences will be considered for the location of clinical experiences, Okanagan College reserves the right to assign and change a student's practicum placement. Travel and accommodation expenses are the student's responsibility.

Selection Process:

  • Applicants who satisfy the admission requirements will be offered admission in chronological order, based on the date of application.

Program outline

Year 1

Pre-practice requirements:

Complete all of the following (Access Level Semester prior to placement approval for CPE 217A)
• Okanagan College Immunizations Record and Declaration Form
• Proof of Vaccination for Covid-19 (as per Provincial Health Orders and/or employer requirements for student practice education)
• HSPnet Student Consent Form
• Student Practice Education Core Orientation or SPECO (online modules, requirement for all students prior to placement in BC health authorities)
• Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum or PVPC (in person, requirement for all students prior to placement in BC health authorities)
Complete all of the following (Semester 3 prior to placement approval for CPE 317)
• N95 Respirator Mask Fit Testing
Note: Pre-practice requirements are normally completed outside of regular class time. There may be additional fees associated with pre-practice requirements. Students are responsible for completing and submitting appropriate documentation for each requirement by the department due dates. Please wait for further instructions to be provided by the department.

Access Level Semester

PNSG 211A - Health Promotion A
PNSG 212A - Professional Practice A
PNSG 213A - Variations in Health A
PNSG 214A - Pharmacology A
PNSG 215A - Professional Communication A
PNSG 216A - Integrated Nursing Practice A
PNSG 217A - Consolidated Practice Experience A

Semester 3

PNSG 311 - Health Promotion III
PNSG 312 - Professional Practice III
PNSG 313 - Variations in Health III
PNSG 315 - Professional Communication III
PNSG 316 - Integrated Nursing Practice III
PNSG 317 - Consolidated Practice Experience (CPE) III

Semester 4

PNSG 411 - Health Promotion IV
PNSG 412 - Professional Practice IV
PNSG 413 - Variations in Health IV
PNSG 415 - Professional Communication IV
PNSG 416 - Integrated Nursing Practice IV
PNSG 417 - Consolidated Practice Experience (CPE) IV
PNSG 511 - Transition to Preceptorship
PNSG 512 - Preceptorship


The APN program allows qualified students to complete the regular PNSG Semester 3 and 4 courses after completing the Access Level Semester.

Graduation with a Practical Nursing Diploma via this Access to Practical Nursing Diploma pathway requires successful completion of the program as outlined. This requires a pass in each Consolidated Practice Experience (CPE) course and Preceptorship and a minimum grade of 70% in each other PNSG course.

Additional information

View the official Calendar details and policies
Learn more about the department
View the Tuition and fees page


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