Mar 04, 2013


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CLPNA study suggests significant improvements to patient care within reach

Licensed practical nurses, registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses. To the average patient, the boundaries between nursing professionals begin to blur. And for the professionals themselves, the lines are not always clear.

New research suggests role clarification will go a long way to improve collaboration and streamline processes within the nursing family enhancing patient care. The unique study has far reaching implications for the health care system in Alberta and across Canada.

"Simple yet ground-breaking, this study points to creating an environment of thoughtful collaboration within the nursing family," said Linda Stanger, Executive Director and Registrar of the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta. "We look forward to working with the stakeholders toward implementing the study recommendations."

The study concluded that while there remains considerable confusion among health care workers about the roles of the licensed practical nurse, LPNs are seen by supervisors and team members (registered nurses and health care aides) as providing quality patient care and to be positive members of the health care team (though underutilized in many settings). Critical for positive change is the development of effective strategies for educating professionals on the role and scope of the LPN, as well as support for significant change at virtually all levels of the system. Clear definition of roles and responsibilities for the LPN within the health care system is required.

"Health care is a dynamic field and the time is right for this kind of in-depth research into the role of the licensed practical nurse," said Anna Kay Todd, Vice-President Learning at Bow Valley College. " As an industry leader in LPN education for over two decades, Bow Valley College was able to bring its extensive research capabilities to bear on the study."

The study "Understanding Licensed Practical Nurses Scope of Practice" was funded by Alberta Health, commissioned by The College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA), and conducted by Bow Valley College. A steering committee comprised of senior government representatives, university nursing researchers, Alberta Health Services, Covenant Health, health care associations and Alberta's nursing regulatory colleges support study recommendations. The study will be presented and discussed at the CLPNA Spring Conference in Banff, Alberta, April 18, 2013.

The full research report is available at:

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