About Nursing

Nursing Designations

There are three groups of professional nurses in Alberta:

Registered Nurses (RNs)

  • Regulatory body: College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta (CARNA)
  • Educational requirement: Bachelor’s degree in nursing (prior to 2010 an RN diploma was also acceptable)
  • General program length: 4 years
  • Educational institutions: University of Alberta, one of the UofA's Collaborative Program sites (Red Deer College, Keyano College, Grande Prairie Regional College), other universities

Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs)

Licensed Practice Nurses (LPNs)

The three professional nursing regulatory bodies are accountable to the public for the provision of safe, ethical, competent nursing care through authority granted in provincial legislation. This includes initial and ongoing registration, continuing competence, practice support, and discipline of their members. Each regulatory body is responsible for the development of codes of ethics, standards of practice, and the approval of nursing education programs. As well, each regulatory body has the authority to define the scope of practice of their respective members (taken from CARNA's Collaborative Nursing Practice in Canada).

When making decisions about RN, RPN, and LPN utilization, there are three key factors to consider: the client, the nurse, and the environment. RNs, RPNs, and LPNs are expected to maintain and adhere to each individual scope of practice. These factors will determine when LPNs can practice autonomously or when an RN or RPN must be involved and/or providing the nursing care (see Collaborative Nursing Practice in Alberta for further detail).

Compensation for nursing jobs varies depending on a variety of factors, including the professional designation (RN, RPN, LPN), the job location, as well as the area and scope of the position.