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VCC practical nursing program builds on previous health care skills

Posted on July 8, 2019



Originally published in Star Metro Vancouver

To recognize past education, training, and work experience of applicants to its practical nursing program, Vancouver Community College (VCC) offers the access to practical nursing program. Through this offering, applicants with a previous background in health care may earn their diploma in 13 months instead of the full 16 months.

“It’s a busy program,” says Julie Gilbert, VCC’s department head of Practical Nursing. “We have high standards and rigour but our students consistently achieve a 100 per cent pass rate on the Canadian Practical Nurse Registration Exam and are highly regarded and employed in the industry.” 

Geared towards those with certificates in health care assistant (HCA), resident care attendant (RCA), a combined home support/resident care attendant, as well as internationally educated nurses, the program prepares students to provide nursing care by combining theoretical and experiential learning.  

“VCC’s vision includes experiential learning and acknowledges students’ backgrounds and experience,” says Gilbert. “We are one of B.C.’s only post-secondary institutions with a simulated hospital that includes a pharmacy, nursing station, physio labs, hospital rooms, and more. We have nursing labs with ‘patients,’ including one mannequin that gives birth.”

In addition to on-campus labs, students complete a consolidated practice experience at the conclusion of each level of the program that reinforces lessons from that particular level. A final full-time practice experience, or preceptorship, meanwhile, further prepares learners for the role and expectations they’ll encounter in the field. 

“The learning is focused on ensuring we’re preparing students to be practice-ready and safe so they can be great nurses,” says Gilbert. “A lot of nurses are retiring and there is a shortage.” 

B.C. Labour Market Outlook predicts that between 2018 and 2023, there will be a two per cent growth in the need for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) with 4,610 expected job openings in the next 10 years. 


Do you have past training and experience as a health care assistant (HCA) or resident care attendant (RCA)? Consider applying now for VCC’s access to practical nursing program starting in September 2019.