Steps to Becoming an APN in British Columbia

1Get your Graduate Degree in British Columbia
2Pass the Necessary Examinations in British Columbia (NP only)
3Apply for your License and Registration in British Columbia
4Renew Your Registration in British Columbia

The British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives (604-742-6200) recognizes two categories of advanced practice nursing, with various designations under each category:

British Columbia Statistics

  • 2011 average salary for general practitioners/family physicians in British Columbia: $124,568
  • May 2012, the Minister of Health allocates $22.2 million to fund 190 new Nurse Practitioner positions through 2015
  • March 2012, BCNPA estimates 250,000 citizens in BC go without access to healthcare
  • Nurse Practitioner (NP):
    • Adult
    • Family
    • Pediatric
  • Certified Practice RNs (RN(c)) :
    • RN First Call
    • Remote Nursing (must also certify in Reproductive Health)
    • Sexually Transmitted Infections – Reproductive Health
    • Contraceptive Management – Reproductive Health

Before considering advanced practice nursing in British Columbia, you must first hold an RN license.

  • If you graduated from an RN training program in British Columbia, you must apply for CRNBC registration and take the Canadian Nurse Registered Examination.
  • If you already hold an RN license in another Canadian province or territory, you may apply for RN registration in British Columbia.
  • If you received your RN training outside of Canada, you are eligible to apply for registration in British Columbia. You will be required to take the Canadian Nurse Registered Examination, and may also have to undergo a substantially equivalent competency (SEC) assessment.
  • If you are an RN who has already registered with the CRNBC but have not practiced in a year or more, you must apply for reinstatement.
  • If you hold non-practicing RN status with the CRNBC, you must convert to practicing RN status.

With an active RN license in British Columbia, take the following steps to become an advanced practice nurse.


Step 1. Get Your Graduate Degree

Nurse Practitioner:

You must complete a minimum of a master’s degree program recognized by the CRNBC in order to become an advanced practice nurse in British Columbia. This should be a Master’s in Nursing  – Nurse Practitioner Program, or  Master’s in Nursing in another relevant discipline from a Pre- or Post-Nurse Practitioner Program.

Certified Practice:

You must complete a certified practice course approved by CRNBC or meet alternative practice experience requirements, as listed below.

Qualified Graduate Programs

Nurse Practitioner Programs and Coursework

Currently, three NP programs in British Columbia are recognized by the CRNBC at the following institutions:

  • University of British Columbia, T201-2211 Wesbrook Mall, Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 2B5
    • Family nurse practitioner program
      • Courses include pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, pharmacology, clinical skills, primary care therapeutics, health promotion, and an internship
  • University of Northern British Columbia, 3333 University Way, Prince George, BC, Canada, V2N 4Z9
    • Family nurse practitioner program
      • Courses include pathophysiology, health assessment and diagnostic reasoning, pharmacological management, primary health care, ethics and nursing responsibility, and an internship
  • University of Victoria, PO Box 1700, STN CSC, Victoria British Columbia V8W 2Y2 Canada
    • Family nurse practitioner program
      • Courses include philosophy of advanced practice nursing, theory of advanced practice nursing, methods in advanced practice nursing, pathophysiology, pharmacological interventions, advanced assessment and diagnostic reasoning, primary health care, and an internship

Certified Practice Programs and Courses

In order to qualify for CRNBC-approved certified practice program status, the program must meet the requirements and standards listed here. The following certified practice programs/courses have been approved by the CRNBC:

Alternatives to Coursework for Certified Practice

Practice Experience Requirement

If you have worked in the Certified Practice area in which you are interested in becoming certified, you may meet the practice experience requirement. If you meet the practice hour requirement, you will be exempt from taking coursework specific to Certified Practice.

  • Did you work in Remote Practice? Have your employer complete the Employer Reference for Remote Certified Practice Registration and submit it directly to CRNBC to determine your eligibility. If it is approved, the CRNBC will send you an email confirming your eligibility to challenge the exit evaluation. You must, however, still complete coursework to become certified in Reproductive Health.

NP Status

You may apply for Certified Practice Designation if you are eligible for or already are a registered NP in BC, (whether or not you have passed the American Nurses Credentialing Center exam, or its equivalent, and the CRNBC Nurse Practitioner OSCE):

  • If you are already a NP who passed the ANCC and OSCE, your registration status with CRNBC will be changed to add Certified Practice
  • If you are an NP who has not yet passed the ANCC and OSCE, you will be emailed a confirmation of your eligibility to challenge the exit evaluation

Clinical Practice/Minimum Practice Requirement for NPs:

Nurse practitioner programs all include clinical practice/internships. During this field-based experience you will work in a clinical environment under the instruction and guidance of a nurse practitioner or physician. You will be observed by this supervisor as well as by faculty from your program as you demonstrate your knowledge of the skills and competencies necessary to practice as an NP. Duties you may perform include ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, health prevention among various patient populations, and assisting in pharmacological treatment. These field experiences take place in hospitals and clinics throughout British Columbia.

When you apply for NP registration in BC you must show that you’ve met the minimum practice hour requirement. This may be met by completing one of the following requirements during the 36 months immediately prior to applying:

  • Graduating from a B.C. recognized nurse practitioner education program or equivalent;
  • Practicing as an NP for at least  900 hours in the stream (family, adult or pediatric) for which you are seeking registration
  • Completing a clinical directed study through a B.C.-recognized NP program

Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR)

The CRNBC’s Prior Learning Assessment and Recognition (PLAR) framework was designed to assess the qualification of NP applicants who did not graduate from a CRNBC-recognized graduate NP program. Two sections are addressed when assessing an applicant:

  • Primary and Associated Areas of Competence:
    • Assessment and diagnosis of client’s health or illness status
    • Managing health care
    • Health promotion and illness/injury prevention
    • Maintaining accountability and professional responsibility
  • Knowledge and Skills Specifications:
    • Nurse practitioner – client relationship
    • Clinical practice
    • Collaboration and change
    • Leadership, evidence-based practice and professional accountability

The PLAR assessment helps the CRNBC determine if you have the necessary competencies and skills gained from prior experience, training and learning, and/or a combination of these factors. If you are an RN who has worked in a role similar to that of an NP, or are registered as an NP in another jurisdiction, PLAR helps CRNBC assess your qualification for NP registration in BC. If you attended NP training in another jurisdiction, whether in Canada or in another country, you are still required to complete the PLAR process. If you pass the PLAR assessment, you may sit for the CRNBC’s written and clinical NP examinations.

Additional Coursework Required for Prescriptive Authority

If you wish to hold prescriptive authority as an NP in BC, you must pass the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) in addition to the regular BC NP exam (the ANCC exam). More information on these exams will be provided later in this document.

While no specific courses are mandated in order to take the OSCE exam, you must be able to show the following skills and/or competencies:

  • Medical knowledge
  • Data gathering skills
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Perform a physical examination on a patient
  • Be proficient in English


Step 2.  Pass the Necessary Examinations (NP only)

After you have completed your graduate education, you may attempt the examinations necessary to achieve your desired advanced practice designation in British Columbia.

If you wish to become a Certified Practice RN, you need not pass any examinations, just complete the requisite coursework or practice experience (see Step 1 above)

American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Exam

To become registered an NP eligible to work in BC, you must pass the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Certification Exam in the area in which you wish to become registered. Note that passing this exam does not render you certified or credentialed with the ANCC, it just registers you with the CRNBC:

Alternatively, if you pass one of the following exams, this is equivalent to passing an ANCC exam:

Exam Format

The ANCC NP exam contains 150 multiple-choice questions. It is taken on a computer and takes three and one half hours.

Exam Locations

You must take the ANCC exam at a Prometric testing site in Canada. The Center in British Columbia is located in Burnaby. There are also locations in Washington State, one in Mountlake Terrace and one in Puyallup. You will be informed of the nearest location to you when the CRNBC reviews and approves your application to take the exam.

Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

If you wish to perform restricted activities listed in the CRNBC Scope of Practice for Nurse Practitioners: Standards, Limits, and Conditions  you must pass both the OSCE and ANCC Examinations. Under the new bylaw changes, you are no longer required to take the OSCE unless you wish to perform restricted activities, such as prescribe medication.

The OSCE is a performance test consisting of 16 interactive examination sessions with clients (played by actors). It lasts approximately five hours. Examples of what to expect on the OCSE NP Exams for Adult, Family and Pediatric are listed on this CRNBC webpage under blueprints.

Exam Prep Resources

The CRNBC provides a helpful list of examination preparation resources for NPs here.


Step 3.  Apply for Examination and Registration with the CRNBC

Pre-Assessment for NPs

Prior to applying for NP registration in British Columbia, you must complete a Pre-Assessment Questionnaire. If the CRNBC reviews your questionnaire and determines that you meet the criteria to become a registered NP in BC, they will send you an application form within 10 days to continue with the process.

The following areas are included in the questionnaire and may serve as a checklist to ensure that you are ready to apply for NP registration in BC:

  • Nurse practitioner education status
  • Nurse practitioner registration status, if any
  • Nurse practitioner certification status, if any
  • Minimum practice hours met
  • Assess your current practice (if any) using the Self-Assessment Tool

Nurse Practitioner Examination and Registration Application

Once your pre-assessment questionnaire has been approved by CRNBC, you may apply for registration as an NP in BC. Use the correct application packet:

  • If you graduated from a CRNBC-recognized NP program, use the BC Application Packet:
    • Complete the application in its entirety (applicable sections only) and have it notarized
    • Enclose a photocopy of an identification document (such as birth certificate or passport)
    • Complete the ANCC section of the application to register to take the ANCC exam (dates for each stream of practice exam are listed)
    • Complete the OSCE section of the application if applying for prescriptive authority/restricted activities to register for the OSCE exam (dates for each stream of practice exam are listed)
    • Enclose passport photo if applying for OSCE
    • Enclose the correct application, examination, and provisional registration fees via Canadian funds only, as applicable (fees are listed on Form 33 in the Application packet)
    • Fill out the provisional registration section if you wish (see below)
  • If you are applying to the CRNBC from a Canadian province or territory outside of BC, use the Canadian Applicant Packet:
    • If you have not submitted an application to CRNBC in the past five years (i.e., registered as an RN), you must complete the Criminal Record Check (complete and sign Form 12 of the application with the proper fee)
    • Send Form 17 to Canadian jurisdictions in which you have been registered as an NP
    • Send Form 22 to your current employer or to your employers for the past three years
    • Enclose the correct application, examination, and provisional registration fees via Canadian funds only, as applicable
  • If you were educated outside of Canada, use the Internationally Educated Applicant packet.:
    • You must apply for Provisional Registration using this application
    • You must have Form 11 notarized
    • If you have not previously submitted to CRNBC in the past five years (i.e., registered as an RN), you must complete the Criminal Record Check (complete and sign Form 12 of the application with the proper fee)
    • Only fill out Form 21 to apply to take the necessary examinations after your application has been assessed and the CRNBC has determined you eligible
    • Enclose a photocopy of an identification document (such as birth certificate or passport)
    • Enclose two passport photos
    • Send Form 24 to all schools where you received nurse practitioner/masters education
    • Send Form 39 to all schools where you completed nurse practitioner education

All applications, fees and supporting documentation must be mailed to CRNBC Registration, Inquiry and Discipline, 2855 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6J 3Y8.

Provisional Registration for NPs

When you register as an NP, you may apply for provisional registration. This is included in the NP application form, and allows you to work as an NP, provisionally, before you pass the ANCC NP examination under the following conditions:

  • You are supervised by a registered NP in BC or by a physician
  • You are not authorized to order diagnostic tests or prescribe independently
  • You must pass the ANCC NP examination
  • You do not need to provide an employer reference for Provisional Registration

Certified Practice Registration Application

  • If you have completed the coursework necessary for the Certified Practice designation, complete the Application for Certified Practice Registration – Course/Exit Evaluation Completed form. Mail it to CRNBC Registration, Inquiry and Discipline, 2855 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6J 3Y8. If registration is granted, you will be notified by email.
  • If you did not complete the coursework necessary, but have worked in Remote Practice, have your employer complete the Employer Reference for Remote Certified Practice Registration form. Have your employer submit it directly to CRNBC at the address above so your eligibility can be determined. If eligibility is approved, the CRNBC will send you an email confirming your eligibility to challenge the exit evaluation. You must, however, still complete coursework to become certified in Reproductive Health.
  • If you are eligible for or already are a registered NP in BC, and have or have not yet passed the American Nurses Credentialing Center exam (or its equivalent) and the CRNBC Nurse Practitioner OSCE, you may apply for the Certified Practice Designation. Mail the form to the CRNBC at the address above. If you have passed the ANCC and OSCE, your registration status with CRNBC will be changed to add Certified Practice. If you have not yet passed the ANCC and OSCE, you will be emailed a confirmation of your eligibility to challenge the exit evaluation.
  • You will be known as an RN(c) once your Certified Practice registration is approved.


Step 4.  Renew Your Registration

Certified Practice Registration

Once you are placed on the CRNBC’s registry of Certified Practice providers, you must meet requirements each year to remain on the register:

  • Continuing Competence Requirements for RNs:
    • Minimum practice hours of 1125 in the past five years
    • Personal Practice Review questions (complete these questions both for RNs and for RN(c))
  • Attest that you continue to practice in your certified area
  • Complete at least one professional development activity per year related to your certified practice area
  • Complete the Personal Practice Review

Nurse Practitioner Registration

To remain registered as an NP with the CRNBC, you must meet Continuing Competence Requirements for NPs. These include:

  • Minimum of 900 practice hours in the previous three years, at the NP level and within your stream of practice
  • Completing the NP Personal Practice Review:
    • Self-assessment
    • Peer feedback
    • Develop and implement a learning plan – three professional development activities per year. You must complete two learning activities from Options 1,2,or 3 below and only one may come from 4,5,or 6:
      1. Attend continuing education forums
      2. Critically review relevant literature
      3. Take academic credit courses
      4. Teach an educational seminar, lecture, presentation
      5. Write for publication
      6. Research relevant to your clinical activities
  • Reporting requirements- you must report your personal practice review requirements when you renew your registration, submit information on personal learning activities, and keep evidence of these activities in case of a random audit by the CRNBC

Renewal

The registration year for NPs and for RN(c) is March 1 to February 28. You may renew as early as February 1.  If you do not renew your registration by March 1, you will be charged a $211.50 reinstatement fee. You may renew online. If you have Provisional Registration, you must also renew by March 1. Make sure to update all information, submit correct fees by credit card, check or money order, and meet Continuing Competence and any other renewal requirements by the renewal date.

Renewal fees for 2012 are:

  • Practicing NP: $682.21
  • Nonpracticing NP: $135.35
  • Practicing RN: $473.76
  • Nonpracticing RN: $94.75
  • Provisional registration NP: $682.21
  • Provisional registration RN: $473.76

Criminal Record Check

Every five years, you must re-submit to a Criminal Record Check, done through the Criminal Records Review Program under the British Columbia Criminal Records Review Act.  You will be notified when you are due for a check. Check the authorization box when you renew online and provide your driver’s license number. You will be subject to an additional $20 fee for the criminal record check, in addition to regular renewal fees.

Advanced Practice Nursing Associations in British Columbia

Now that you are a registered advance practice nurse with the CRNBC, think about joining one of the following professional support organizations:


British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to Statistics Canada, in 2011, nurse practitioners in the Vancouver and Lower Mainland Southwest areas of British Columbia averaged $35.33 per hour, which came to an average annual salary among them of $73,486. Those in the 90th percentile earned significantly more with an average hourly wage of $46.55. Their annual salary was $96,824 on average, which was $23,338 more than the overall average in British Columbia.

Occupational Classification
Number of Professionals
Average Income
Nurse Supervisors and RNs
17995
$61724
Head Nurses and Supervisors
655
$60557
Registered Nurses
7340
$61768
General Practitioners and Family Physicians
2770
$124568

Employment and salary data included in these tables was produced by Census Canada in 2006 and originally published by Statistics Canada in 2008. To provide comprehensive information for comparative purposes, the data includes all Statistics Canada Occupational Classifications in which advanced practice nurses were identified.

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