Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Diploma (PHCNP)


Discover the many important leadership roles that Nurse Practitioners play in our health systems.

The Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Diploma (PHCNP) program utilizes a combination of on-site and distance learning and offers full- and part-time options in collaboration with a consortium of Ontario universities. Graduates of the Primary Health Care Nurse Practitioner Diploma program are eligible to write the Canadian Nurse Practitioner Examination and are also eligible to practice in a variety of settings in addition to primary care upon graduation and successful completion of the CNPE. Students enrolled in this diploma program are normally not eligible for research and/or scholarship funding support through Western University. International students are not eligible to apply to the PHCNP diploma program due to the Ontario practice requirements (see below).

The PHCNP Diploma program is ideal for master's-prepared registered nurses with a strong interest in the clinical aspects of primary health care nursing delivery at an advanced level. It provides students with the opportunity to expand their nursing scope of practice through advanced evidence-based practice and training and prepares them for certification and practice as a Nurse Practitioner.

  • Designed to prepare nurse practitioners who are competent in the provision of care to individuals, families, and communities
  • Graduates will be well-prepared to engage in evidenced-based nursing practice through the clinical, research, education, and leadership roles of the PHCNP
  • Clinical PHCNP courses are offered by faculty at Western
  • Some PHCNP courses are offered through distributive learning strategies in collaboration with a consortium of nine Ontario universities

The PHCNP Diploma program is ideal for registered nurses with a graduate degree seeking an NP diploma to further advance their nursing practice, Graduates who obtain a PHCNP diploma are eligible to write the CNPE licensing exam.

Program Objectives

To facilitate leadership in the:

  • Development of in-depth understanding of a selected aspect of nursing science
  • Analysis and integration of theory and research from nursing and related disciplines as a basis for enhancing understanding of significant issues
  • Valuing of differing approaches to knowledge development in the nursing discipline
  • Engagement in research inquiry that is significant to the nursing discipline
  • Upholding of principles of ethical inquiry in advancing knowledge in the discipline of nursing
  • Evolution of health care and health policy through the use of research findings and the development of collaborative partnerships

To facilitate the students' ability to:

  • Provide competent care to individuals, families, and communities
  • Analyze and integrate theories, models, concepts, and frameworks of advanced nursing practice
  • Incorporate principles of evidence-based practice
  • Contribute to knowledge development for the PHCNP role
  • Practice in the PHCNP role in an ethical and legal manner

The deadline to apply for the PHCNP diploma program is February 1. Applications open in mid-October. All application documents (i.e., transcripts, letters of reference, and supplemental materials) must be received by the deadline. Review of complete application files begins after February 1 and continues until spaces in each program are filled. Late applications will only be reviewed if space remains in the program. Incomplete applications cannot be reviewed, and it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the application file is complete.

Admission Requirements

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree in nursing (e.g., BScN, BSN, BN). Internationally educated nurses may be asked to submit a World Evaluation Services (WES) report to confirm degree equivalence to those accredited by the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing (CASN)
  • Completion of a master's degree in Nursing or a field related to health care
  • GPA of 78% (B+) or higher. Admission averages are based on the last two years of full-time study or the last 10 part-time credits
  • Undergraduate preparation in research and statistics
  • All students must have RN registration in good standing with the College of Nurses of Ontario, and be entitled to practice with no restrictions
  • Completion of the equivalent of two years of full-time RN practice experience (3,640 hours) in the past five years (some of those hours must be completed in Canada)

Application Requirements

  • One academic and one clinical reference
    • Referees are contacted after their names are submitted in the online application
    • The academic reference should be provided by a faculty member from the applicant's master's program who will be able to attest to their scholarly skills, in particular, writing, analysis, and critical thinking
    • The clinical reference should be provided by an individual working with the applicant in a supervisory capacity who will be able to attest to their clinical skills, nursing practice, and competency
  • Transcripts of any postsecondary coursework (including bachelor’s degree(s) and any advanced degrees obtained)
  • Curriculum vitae (CV)
  • Personal essay (see instructions below)
    • Essay scores are an important component of the application and are based on the applicant's ability to address the questions listed below in a comprehensive and personal matter. Whenever possible, examples of personal experience should be included within the responses.
    • Essays must be typed and should not exceed five pages in length (double-spaced, times new Roman 12 font with 2.54 cm margins – APA format). If the essay is longer than five pages, only the first five pages will be read.
    • Applicants should answer the following five questions in their essay and number their answers to correspond to the questions asked:
      1. Using an example from your current clinical practice setting or organization, describe the role and scope of practice of the Nurse Practitioner in Ontario. How have you seen the role enacted and what effect has it had on your own nursing practice?
      2. Describe a leadership opportunity you’ve been involved in within your healthcare organization or community.
      3. What is your motivation for wanting to enact the Nurse Practitioner role and how does this align with your previous personal and professional experience? Include in your answer where you envision yourself working as a nurse practitioner.
      4. What current healthcare issue(s) do you see in your community or practice setting and how might an NP begin to address these issues?
      5. Describe specific strategies you will use to manage the time demands of the program including course preparation, in-class time, and clinical placement hours.
  • Verification of Employment Hours (PDF)

Review of Applications and Offers of Admission

The Graduate Program Admissions Committee reviews all applications meeting the minimum academic average of 78% (B+) and determines whether to offer admission based on a number of factors, including:

  • Past academic achievement
  • Quality of referee assessments
  • Clarity and fit of the applicant’s written goals with the program goals
  • Evidence of engagement in professional activities
  • Evidence of leadership
  • Quality of oral and/or written communication

Preference for admission into the program are given to applicants who have completed a graduate degree in nursing or other health related fields upon completion of their undergraduate nursing degree. Offers of admission are made as applications are considered, with the first offers being made in April. Successful applicants may accept their offers of admission online.

NOTE: Acceptance of an offer of admission by the applicant is with the understanding that seminars for applicable courses will be attended on the Western University campus and clinical placements will be in the Western University area.

The normal time of completion is 12 months of full-time or two years of part-time study.

Courses marked with an "*" are offered online. Clinical placements, marked with "**" must be completed within the Western University region. Please view the Clinical Placement map for details.

For more detailed information about graduate courses offerings in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, visit the Course Offerings page.

Full-Time Study

Fall Term:

  • N9856: Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnosis I**
  • N9458: Therapeutics I**
  • N9850: Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners*
  • N9853: Roles & Responsibilities*

Winter Term:

  • N9857: Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnosis II**
  • N9459: Therapeutics II**
  • N9850: Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners (con’t)*
  • N9853: Roles & Responsibilities (con’t)*

Summer Term:

  • N9854: Integrative Practicum**

Part-Time Study

Fall Term:

  • N9856: Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnosis I**
  • N9850: Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners*

Winter Term:

  • Advanced Health Assessment & Diagnosis II**
  • N9850: Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners (con’t)*

Summer Term:

  • No Courses

Fall Term:

  • N9458: Therapeutics I**
  • N9853: Roles & Responsibilities*

Winter Term:

  • N9459: Therapeutics II**
  • N9853: Roles & Responsibilities (con’t)*

Summer Term:

  • N9854: Integrative Practicum**

The Nurse Practitioner Primary Health Care Program at Western University is approved by the College of Nurses of Ontario. Current graduates from this program are eligible to apply for Extended Class registration as a Nurse Practitioner in Ontario.