September 22, 2021

Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) will have a learning option for advanced orthopaedic knowledge and skills that keeps them closer to home.

The new LPN Orthopaedic Certificate offered at Okanagan College (OC) is the first of its kind in British Columbia.

Launching in January 2022, the online certificate program is set to increase access to advanced orthopaedic education for nurses throughout the province and minimize travel requirements.

“This program will meet the provincial need for a local solution for training opportunities to build the skills and capacity of nurses to support the orthopaedic needs of British Columbians,” says Health Minister Adrian Dix. “This is the result of strong partnerships between health authorities, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training, BC College of Nurses and Midwives, and the BC Nurses’ Union with Okanagan College to shape the program and ensure it was tailored to the B.C. health care context.”

The advanced training covers specialized learning for a range of topics, including anatomy and physiology, orthopaedic pathology and casting skills. Nurses will be prepared to work in team-based environments along with physicians and nurse practitioners to assess and manage nursing care for conditions and injuries of the musculoskeletal system.

“Okanagan College’s LPN Orthopaedic Certificate is a first in B.C., and provides opportunities for people to learn in-demand skills in the health-care field,” says Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “This specialized program allows more people to access education and training in their home communities, and ultimately meet the needs of British Columbians.”

The certificate program will be offered in a hybrid-delivery model with online theory learning and a practicum that will take place at Okanagan College-approved locations within each student’s local health authority or community.

In order to create more access for students, the learning model needed to be decentralized throughout the province,” says Yvonne Moritz, Associate Vice President Educational Services and Interim Dean Science, Technology and Health.

“The practicum component is more extensive in this program. Additional practice time is needed as skills that might normally be practiced in a lab setting will be integrated into the practicum,” says Moritz. “So allowing students to complete the practicum in a community more local to where they live will be beneficial.”

Orthopaedics is a rapidly growing field for LPNs looking to expand their scope and specialize their skills. “LPNs with this education are high in demand in every health authority,” says Aneta D’Angelo, Director of Clinician Education with Interior Health.

“Nurses who complete the training will be able to apply for Orthopaedic Technician vacancies within many of our Interior Health casting clinics. With every health authority in B.C. seeking LPNs to work in casting clinics, the employment opportunities are extremely promising.”

The LPN Orthopaedic training program has been developed with a provincial focus and is designed to meet LPN practice needs. The program is unique in that both Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses will have the opportunity to learn side-by-side the same skills creating a rich learning environment.

Previously, this specialized training was only available in Alberta. However, differences in provincial scope of practice and mounting travel-related costs prompted the combined efforts to explore ways in which to develop and deliver a training program that will effectively address these challenges at a local level.

OC offers a wide range of health training programs. The LPN Orthopaedic Certificate program is one of several certificates with a specific focus for professionals already working in direct service delivery.

To apply or learn more about the program, visit OC’s website.