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Practical Nurse (PN) Diploma

The PN diploma program delivery combines on and off campus, state-of-the-art labs, and classroom and online learning, as well as clinical experiences. Classes are generally scheduled between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Clinical shifts may include days, evenings, nights, and/or weekends. The Student Advising Centre is available to assist learners in understanding the various options within the program related to course load and schedule.

Due to the popularity of this program, it is recommended to apply at least twelve (12) months prior to the program start date.

All students registered in a Practical Nurse program are required to write the Test of Workplace Essential Skills (TOWES) assessment in the first six (6) months of their program.

Are you a Registered Nurse (RN) from a country outside of Canada?
The first step is to register for the course NURS1100 - Practical Nurse Equivalency Preparatory (9 Credits, 135 hours). This course provides an opportunity challenge the knowledge content of 15 courses within the PN program. Depending on those results, there is an opportunity to complete the Practical Nurse Diploma program with less course work.

Do you have a Health Care Aide (HCA) certificate?
This recognizes the education and work as a Health Care Aide provider by offering a Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) process for a limited number of courses.

Are you are a resident of rural Alberta?
Bow Valley College offers the Practical Nurse program via synchronous delivery at various rural or town campus locations starting each fall. Some of the possible locations include Airdrie, High River, Strathmore or Canmore. The program is also available at a faith-based institution, Prairie College in Three Hills. The teaching style allows for increased accessibility and flexibility for regional leaners by offering courses at multiple locations. Adobe Connect is the technology that we use along with experienced and knowledgeable instructors to facilitate a collaborative learning environment for learners to complete the PN program. Please connect with the Student Advising Centre for details.

Clinical Experience

As clinical experiences require learners to travel to various locations in Calgary and surrounding communities, accessibility to transportation is advisable. Every effort is made to accommodate learners 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.

Tuition & Financial Aid

Refer to the Program Tuition Fee Chart for an estimate of the cost of completing a Bow Valley College career program. When creating a budget, consider the costs of tuition, student fees, textbooks, learning materials, and police information check fees. Attend a Financial Aid Information Session for advice on financing a Bow Valley College education.

Need more info?

Practical Nurse Diploma Program Frequently Asked Questions

International Students: Please click here for more information on international applications.


Courses in Program

This exciting four-term career program begins three times per year: fall, winter and spring.

Curriculum subject to change.

Click on the course name to view the course description.

Term 1

ANAT1101 - Anatomy and Physiology (6 Credits, 90 hours)

The study of the structure and function of the twelve body systems and how the systems work together to maintain homeostasis in the human body. The course progresses from the cellular level to organ systems. Learners receive a foundation in anatomical terminology.

Prerequisites: none

NURS1101 - Nursing Arts (3 Credits, 45 hours)

The uniqueness of person and the inherent traits and skills required to function as a professional nurse will be presented within the context of the determinants of health. The fundamentals of professional nursing - nursing process, communication, ethics, critical thinking, and the health care environment are presented.

Prerequisites: none

NURS1202 - Nursing Foundations 1 (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners will be provided a foundation for the principles underlying nursing actions and decision making, required to plan and provide safe, holistic nursing care to clients requiring assistance with basic needs. Nursing competencies introduced in the classroom are practiced and assessed in the nursing laboratory.

Prerequisites: NURS1101* (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

NURS1301 - Mathematical Principles of Medication Administration (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Numeracy skills in drug dosage calculation are intrinsic to nursing practice. Learners need these skills to progress through their courses, clinical placements, and eventual licensed PN practice. This course initially focuses on foundational mathematical concepts and operations as well as the documents integral to medication administration. The course covers oral and parenteral medication calculations, intravenous drug administration calculations, and calculations for special protocols. Proficiency in this course underpins safe practice.

Prerequisites: none

COMM1101 - Interpersonal Relationships and Communication Skills (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners are introduced to the concept of self-awareness and the process of communication. Emphasis is on understanding the communication process and building personal and professional communication skills. Communication techniques for working with cultural diversity and special populations are also explored.

Prerequisites: none

ENGL1201 - English: Composition (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners will explore various genres of English composition. This course is not remedial; competency in high-school grammar and composition is required.

Prerequisites: none

Term 2

NURS1102 - Applied Pharmacology (3 Credits, 45 hours)

The pharmacokinetics of medications, the rationale for their use and the expected results of therapy are discussed, along with the development of critical thinking skills to assess the need for, and client response to medication. Practical nurse competencies, scope of practice and legal responsibilities are also emphasized.

Prerequisites: ANAT1101

NURS1103 - Pathophysiology (3 Credits, 45 hours)

The knowledge of anatomy and physiology is related to the causes, treatment, and usual courses of illness. Learners are provided with a body systems approach to common health care issues, focusing on physiological changes that occur with alterations in biological health.

Prerequisites: ANAT1101

NURS1201 - Adult Health Assessment (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners will practice holistic adult health assessment techniques in an organized, safe manner, researching appropriate data sources. Emphasis will be on analyzing findings and responding appropriately. A nursing lab component requires learners to demonstrate beginning competency in head-to-toe assessments. Please contact department for details.

Prerequisites: ANAT1101

NURS1302 - Health Education: Personal Health and Wellness (3 Credits, 45 hours)

An overview, within the context of community and the Canadian Health Care System, of the physical, social, mental, environmental, and spiritual aspects of personal health and wellness. Learners will develop healthy lifestyle strategies, as well as become advocates for the health of others.

Prerequisites: ENGL1201

NURS1203 - Nursing Foundations 2 (6 Credits, 90 hours)

Holistic interdisciplinary care is emphasized within the framework of professional nursing. Focus is on the principles underlying nursing actions and decision making required for planning and providing safe nursing care to clients using a body system approach. Nursing competencies introduced in the classroom are practiced and assessed in the nursing laboratory.

Prerequisites: ANAT 1101, NURS1102*, NURS1103*, NURS 1201*, NURS1202, NURS1301 (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

NURS1401 - Clinical 1: Foundational (4 Credits, 120 hours)

Learners will implement research skills to provide safe, organized nursing care focusing on activities of daily living, medication administration and health assessments in a long term care setting. Working with a variety of health team members and communication with clients and staff will be stressed.

Prerequisites: ANAT1101, COMM1101, NURS1101, NURS1102*, NURS1103*, NURS1201, NURS1202, NURS1203, NURS1301 (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

Term 3

PSYC1201 - Human Growth and Development Across The Life Span (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course provides a comprehensive overview of physical, social and cognitive development across the human life span. Emphasis is placed upon the stages of development and their linkage to common events and adaptations.

Prerequisites: none

NURS2501 - Maternity Nursing (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Family-centered introduction to the needs and nursing care of childbearing families. Community resources and client teaching needs are addressed. Learning will be focused on the care of the mother and infant during pregnancy, labour and delivery, and the postpartum period within the context of the family.

Prerequisites: NURS1102, NURS1202

NURS2502 - Pediatric Nursing (3 Credits, 45 hours)

This course is a family-centered introduction to the needs and nursing care of child rearing families. Community resources and client teaching are addressed. Learners will be provided an introduction to common health issues of children and related nursing care using a body system approach.

Prerequisites: NURS1102, NURS1103, NURS1203, PSYC1201* (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

NURS2204 - Nursing Foundations 3 (6 Credits, 90 hours)

Holistic interdisciplinary nursing care and skills are emphasized within the framework of the nursing process. Focus is on the principles underlying nursing knowledge required to care for clients in the medical/surgical environment. Nursing competencies introduced in the classroom are practiced and assessed in the nursing laboratory.

Prerequisites: NURS1102, NURS1103, NURS1201, NURS1203, NURS1401

NURS2402 - Clinical 2: Medical/Surgical (8 Credits, 232 hours)

Critical thinking and reflective practice are emphasized within the framework of the nursing process. Learners will provide holistic care and plan for a client with complex health care issues to transition back into the community. Learners will also develop skills and competencies in interdisciplinary and primary health care models.

Prerequisites: NURS1203, NURS1302, NURS1401, NURS2204* (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

SOCI1101 - Introduction to Sociology (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Orientation to sociology is provided, examining how individual lives are shaped by one's place in society and how people cope with their social cultural contexts. The focus is on Canadian culture, diversity and social trends, and how Canada is affected by its position in the world as a whole.

Prerequisites: none

Term 4

NURS2303 - Nursing Trends and Issues (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners will consolidate personal and professional philosophy of nursing, exploring the role of the practical nurse in primary health care as client advocate, educator, leader and manager. Trends and issues in provincial, Canadian, and global health will be discussed within the context of licensed practical nursing.

Prerequisites: NURS2204, NURS2402, NURS2501, NURS2502, PSYC1201

NURS2503 - Mental Health Nursing (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners are provided an introduction to the assessment, treatments, and nursing interventions for clients with psychiatric and mental health issues. Basic mental health concepts, therapeutic relationships, and assessment strategies are applied within the context of the nursing process, and legal and ethical practices.

Prerequisites: COMM1101, NURS1102, NURS1103, NURS1201, NURS1302

NURS2504 - Community Nursing (3 Credits, 45 hours)

Learners explore nursing roles and activities in varied practice settings within the community. The frameworks of population health, levels of prevention, primary health care, and determinants of health are used to identify populations at risk and formulate community health promotion strategies.

Prerequisites: NURS1102, NURS1103, NURS1201, NURS1302

NURS2403 - Clinical 3: Medical/Surgical (4 Credits, 120 hours)

Critical thinking and reflective practice are emphasized within the framework of the nursing process. Learners will provide holistic care and plan for a client with complex health care issues to transition back into the community. Learners will also develop skills and competencies in interdisciplinary and primary health care models.

Prerequisites: NURS2204, NURS2402, PSYC1201

NURS2998/NURS2999 - Pre-Grad Practicum (4 Credits, 264 hours)

Learners will work in either acute care and sub-acute care settings or specialty care settings, which will provide opportunities to apply knowledge, perform skills, and consolidate their knowledge, nursing competencies, and critical thinking strategies in situations that challenge and nurture a novice nurse practitioner.

Prerequisites: ENGL1101, NURS2303*, NURS2403, NURS2503, NURS2504, NURS1302, SOCI1101 (* may be taken as a co-requisite)

Admission requirements

Academic Requirements

  • Minimum final mark of 60% in English 30-1 or 70% in English 30-2 or equivalent
  • Credit in Math 20-1 or a minimum final mark of 60% in Math 20-2 or equivalent
  • Minimum final mark of 60% in Biology 30 or 60% in Anatomy and Physiology (ANAT1101) at Bow Valley College or equivalent

English Language Proficiency Requirements

Pre-Clinical Requirements

  • CPR Healthcare Provider Level Certificate also known as Basic Life Support, must be updated every 12 months.
  • Bow Valley College requires that Practical Nurse learners have a current Police Information Check (PIC) . PICs are valid for the duration of the PN Program. Learners are responsible for informing the School of Health and Wellness if there are changes to their PIC's during the PN Program. The Police Information Check must be dated no earlier than ninety (90) days prior to the start of the PN Program. A letter indicating eligibility for a Police Information Check discount is included in the package mailed to successful applicants. PICs can take 6-8 weeks to obtain, so it is advised to begin the process as soon as possible.
  • Immunization requirements: Details about immunizations are provided after being accepted into the program. Up-to-date immunizations are valid for the duration of the program.

Notes regarding ANAT 1101

  • Applicants may complete Anatomy and Physiology (ANAT1101) at Bow Valley College before the program starts in Open Studies, pending availability. 
  • Applicants may be eligible for transfer credit in Term One if they achieve a grade of C (64%) or higher and submit a Request for Transfer Credit Form to the Registrar's Office at least one month before the first day of classes. 
  • Please note that Post-LPN Bachelor of Nursing programs might not accept ANAT1101 in place of 30-level science courses. 

Transferability

Graduates of this program may be accepted into:

Some transfer credit is available from:

  • Athabasca University
  • Aurora College
  • College of the Rockies
  • Columbia College
  • Grant MacEwan University
  • Keyano College
  • Lambton College
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • Mount Royal University
  • NorQuest College
  • Portage College
  • Prairie College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • Red Deer College
  • Red River College
  • University of Calgary