What are Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and What Do We Do?

In British Columbia, NPs are Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) that are licensed by the College of Registered Nurses (CRNBC) in the classification -Nurse Practitioner.  Nurse Practitioners provide comprehensive clinical care including the diagnosis and management of disease/illness, prescribing medications, ordering/interpreting laboratory/diagnostic tests, and initiating referrals to specialists.

NP practice does not require physician supervision.

NP’s provide care in both primary and acute care settings including rural, remote and urban centers.

For more information on NP scope of practice go to

NPs take a holistic view on health when working with patients, taking care of the physical, emotional, emotional, and social aspects of a person’s health needs.

The BC government enacted legislation in 2005, granting NPs license to practice autonomously.

In accordance to federal, provincial, and territorial legislation and policy, NPs are able to:

  • Provide comprehensive health assessments and perform check-ups.
  •  Diagnose health conditions.
  • Treat and manage acute and chronic illness.
  • Treat and manage simple and complex health issues.
  • Order and interpret screening and diagnostic tests.
  • Order procedures.
  • Prescribe treatment and medications.
  • Refer clients to other healthcare professionals and specialists.
  • Treat, transfer, and may discharge in-patients, and community out-patients from hospitals.
  • Provide counselling and education.

All BC NPs are licensed and regulated by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC). They also carry liability insurance administered by the Canadian Nurse Protective Society (CNPS). (BC NP insurance is equal to the insurance physician’s carry.)

The Difference Between NPs and Other Nursing Professions

There are four categories of nurses in BC:

  1. Nurse practitioners (NPs)
  2. Registered nurses (RNs)
  3. Registered psychiatric nurses (RPNs)
  4. Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)

NP Specialties

There are three categories of NPs in BC:

  1. Adult: NPs who work with adults and older adults.
  2. Family: NPs who work with populations from infants to older adults.
  3. Pediatric: NPs who work with infants to adolescents.

Practice areas for BC NPs:

  • Rural and remote
  • Acute care
  • Primary care
  • Long term/residential care

Where NPs Work in BC

BC has 425 practicing and provisional NPs working independently and in collaboration with other health professionals. (Source: CRNBC, 2017)

You will find BC NPs in a number of rural and urban areas, including:

  • Areas with socially vulnerable populations (e.g. HIV/AIDS, addictions)
  • Community health centres
  • Family health teams
  • First Nations health clinics
  • Home healthcare agencies
  • Hospitals, including emergency departments, acute care, speciality medicine, and surgical care
  • Immigrant health clinics
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Mental health services
  • NP-led clinics
  • Nursing stations
  • Primary care clinics and health teams
  • Primary care under a health authority
  • Programs for the frail and elderly
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Schools and workplaces
  • Specialty clinics

Where People Go to Become NPs

The following BC universities have NP programs:

Back to top