LPN conference focuses on professional pride, greater independence

With the provincial government set to make significant changes to the regulations governing Licensed Practical Nurses, more than 60 LPNs gathered at HEU’s provincial office on June 21 to discuss how to continue moving their profession forward.

The day-long conference was part of a broad consultation with the union’s LPN members about their current day-to-day experiences and their vision for the future of their professional practice.

In addition to reviewing HEU’s recent discussion paper – Taking our place in modern nursing care – participants heard from government officials and educators responsible for implementing upcoming regulatory and curriculum changes, as well as representatives from the professional colleges that license LPNs in both B.C. and Alberta.

“LPNs have made huge strides in recent years as they take on new roles and responsibilities in our health care system,” says HEU secretary-business manager Judy Darcy. “But there’s much more to be done.

“LPNs are deeply passionate about their patients and their profession. And from what I heard during the proceedings, they are equally passionate about the need for LPNs to have a strong, independent voice in determining their own future.”

To that end, much of the day was devoted to examining the model in place in Alberta, where LPNs are no longer under the general supervision of an RN. It’s a model that provides LPNs with greater autonomy in their practice and a greater ability to engage as independent members of a collaborative nursing team.

Teresa Bateman of the Alberta College of LPNs encouraged participants to work together to evolve their practice, to think in terms of competence rather than task, and to take pride in their profession.

“You have a responsibility to shape your own practice and to focus on your uniqueness as an LPN,” she said.

The conference welcomed LPN members from all parts of the province working in acute care, long-term care, specialty roles, and home and community care. And they were joined by LPNs from the B.C Government and Service Employees Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers, and LPN representatives from CUPE’s health care sector in Ontario.

 In preparation for the release of the draft changes under consideration by B.C.’s Ministry of Health later this year, HEU will continue to gather the views of LPN members through a variety of means – including workplace conversations – to advocate for positive changes that will strengthen LPNs independent professional practice.

In the meantime, HEU will be releasing a full report from the conference in coming weeks to generate broader discussion within our LPN membership.

If you would like more information please e-mail Maire Kirwan at mkirwan@heu.org