The Practical Nursing program is designed to prepare graduates who are able to meet the challenges of the expanding role of nursing in today’s society. As a practical nurse, you will combine your knowledge, skills and judgement to provide safe, competent, ethical nursing care to meet the unique needs of all patients throughout the continuum of care.
The Practical Nursing Program at Durham College is approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario (www.cno.org). Current graduates from this program are eligible to apply for registration as a Registered Practical Nurse in Ontario.
Please note: This program may be highly competitive and have a specific selection process and application deadline. Please refer to Admission Processes for details regarding highly competitive programs.
If you begin classes in January, you will complete semesters 1 and 2 (Year 1) from January to August and semesters 3 and 4 (Year 2) from January to August. Semester 5 will then run from August to October.
If you begin classes in May, you will complete semesters 1 and 2 (Year 1) from May to December and semesters 3 and 4 (Year 2) from May to December. Semester 5 will then run from January to March.
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Approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO), the Practical Nursing program teaches the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to practice as a safe, competent and professional practical nurse. Using the concept of caring as the basis of nursing, you will develop knowledge, skills and judgment in assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating nursing care for all age groups as they experience various health challenges. A particular focus is placed on the ability to communicate in a caring and therapeutic manner.
With a strong emphasis on practical hands-on experience, you will apply theory gained in the classroom and simulated lab practice to environments including:
Upon completion of your program, you must successfully complete the Regulatory Exam – Practical Nurse (REx-PN) to become a registered practical nurse (RPN) in Ontario and a member of the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO)*
Please note: in Ontario the following conditions are laid out by the Nursing Act to be registered as a practical nurse. These conditions may impact your ability to register with CNO as an RPN post-graduation.
To register as an RPN in Ontario you must Meet the CNO requirements.
In accordance with the mandate of the CNO to communicate Practical Nursing program approval status with current and prospective students please note that:
The Practical Nurse Program at Durham College is approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario. Current graduates from this program are eligible to apply for registration as a Registered Practical Nurse in Ontario.
Students in this program receive free membership to Digital Health Canada, a not-for-profit professional association that provides members with numerous educational and professional career benefits. Membership includes access to learning and networking opportunities, unique awards applications, as well as discounts for Digital Health Canada online and on-demand courses, Certified Professional in Healthcare Information and Management Systems (CPHIMS-CA) exam fees, and event registrations.
The courses listed below are for incoming students. If you are a current student, please refer to your program of study for the year you began your program. Your program of study can be found on MyDC.
Courses and course descriptions are subject to change. Please note that as a result of COVID-19 the 2023-2024 program of study may be modified to accommodate program delivery changes.
Practicum allows students to apply their learning with a variety of clinically supervised practicum experiences that are designed to prepare you to function as a graduate in diverse settings. Placements are located at various local hospitals and agencies throughout Durham Region and at times, in the immediate surrounding areas. Placements may take place on weekdays or weekends with the exception of Semester 5, Professional Practice V (consolidation), where students are expected to be available to follow their preceptor’s schedule. Students are responsible for their own transportation to attend practicum.
Please note that hospital placement may begin as early as 06:00 hours.
Please note: There are costs associated with Electronic Student Permit Checking (ESPC), immunizations, lab tests and certifications. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for income tax purposes. These costs include:
It is required that students have completed the ESPC with Synergy Verified to be eligible for the field placement component of this program. You must (at your expense) provide:
Qualified graduates may apply to take Durham College’s Addictions and Mental Health or Communicative Disorders Assistant graduate certificate programs.
Durham College also offers degree completion opportunities with a number of Canadian and international institutions. Sample diploma-to-degree opportunities include:
Please visit our pathways page to learn more about how you can transfer your credits towards a degree.
A laptop is required for this program. Most students tend to use Windows-based computers. Some prefer to use an Apple (Mac) device. Either platform can work within the School of Health and Community Services Practical Nursing program.
Here are suggested minimum hardware specifications recommended for your DC related computer activities like DC Connect and the Virtual Classroom:
Your learning experience in the program will be complemented by simulation-based exercises to support critical thinking, clinical decision-making, and learner confidence in the field. Through the execution of a comprehensive pre-brief, a state-of-the-art simulation, and an in-depth debrief and reflection, students will engage in learning that goes well beyond the walls of the classroom. It is our mission to ensure that you are up to date with the most relevant health crises in Canada. This includes opioid overdose, preparing you for more than just life-saving care, but also the skills to de-stigmatize addiction and learn harm reduction strategies for each unique patient. Simulations are integrated throughout the program and are an effective platform for growth and reflection.
Project Lord Ridgeback (PLRB) is multi-disciplinary experiential learning exercise that simulates a local disaster. Interacting with actors who play victims, casualties, emotionally distressed persons and the elderly in a staged, choreographed event, students from a wide range of programs learn by acting and responding as they would in real emergencies. Subject matter experts design injects into disaster-related scenarios which simulate authentic workplace demands.
The day following the mock disaster, students participate in follow up exercises to apply learning in mock court testimony, critical incident stress debrief, crime-scene lab work, and form completion specific to their program areas.
Student participants are from a wide range of DC programs including: Practical Nursing, Primary Care Paramedic, Police Foundations, Protection Security & Investigation, Paralegal, 911 Call Centre Communications, Advanced Law Enforcement and Investigations, Journalism Mass Media Program, Social Service Worker, Activation Co-ordination – Gerontology, Court Support Services.