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​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Reserved titles a​​re a central and critical public protection element of B.C.'s health professions regulatory fr​amework.​

What will I learn?​​

  • Who can use the reserved title “nurse"
  • What title(s) to use whe​​​n identifying as a nurs​​e​​


​What's in a tit​​​​​le?

The reserved title “nurse" carries significant meaning and conveys a level of knowledge and skill in managing the health care of a client. The Health Professions Act restricts the use of reserved titles, abbreviations of the title, or an equivalent title in another language for use by registrants of a regulatory college. Only registrants of BCCNM may use a reserved nursing title when practicing in B.C.

Adding your signature and title to your entries on the health record reflects your scope of practice and demonstrates accountability for your practice. Use the title that reflects your registrant class and practice.

Using the title “nurse" without proper qualifications is an offence under section 51 of the Health Professions Act, is fraudulent, and may have legal and regulatory consequences.

Test your "use of title" know-how with the scenarios below.​​

New grad, new title​​

Brianna is a new graduate who recently registered with BCCNM. While preparing to write her nursing exam, she is working in her first job as a nurse. During her orientation, a colleague tells her she should sign LGN, for licensed graduate nurse, after her name. Brianna thought she was supposed to use the title RN provisional but now she's not sure.

What title can Brianna use?

Brianna is right: she has provisional registration and should use the title and sign her documentation as registered nurse (provisional) or RN(P). When Brianna passes the NCLEX, her provisional registration will automatically convert to practising and she can use the title RN.

Licensed graduate nurses (LGNs) are nurses granted registration with the college prior to October 1, 1990. This title is no longer issued. LGNs provide the same service as RNs.  

Role vs. title in documentation

Matt, an LPN, works as a public health nurse and sees his colleagues using “PHN" when they sign their documentation. When he asks about it, he's told it stands for public health nurse and more clearly reflects their day-to-day practice and the care they provide. He thought he was supposed to use LPN, but now he's not sure.

How should Matt sign his documentation?

Nurses sign their documentation using a title that reflects their registration class, such as LPN, RN, RPN, or RN(C). Matt includes his title, LPN, when signing his documentation.

When Matt signs his documentation and includes his reserved title, he reflects his scope of practice and shows professional accountability and responsibility.

Appropriate use of "doctor” in your credentials

If you're a nurse or midwife with doctoral education, you can use the academic title “doctor."1 But, it's important to remember that most people associate "doctor" with medical doctors or physicians. Even though you've earned a doctoral degree, it's important to communicate your role clearly. Using “doctor" in a health-care setting might confuse or mislead clients, health professionals, and organizations.

Your academic credentials don't allow you to practise midwifery, practical nursing, nursing, or psychiatric nursing. So, avoid using your academic credentials in a way that suggests you're registered for a designation you're not.

So, how can you show your achievements without causing confusion?

  • Introduce yourself with your name, role, and reserved title when you firs​​t meet clients or health-care professionals. Keep reminding them of your role and avoid using language or statements that may cause confusion. If someone calls you "doctor" thinking you're a physician, correct them.

  • Use your name and the regulatory title that reflects your designation and, for ​​NPs, your stream of practice. 

  • Don't call yourself "d​octor" in situations where the title may confuse or mislead clients or the health-care team.

  • Use your regula​tory title appropriately in documentation, signatures​, business cards, websites, and advertisements. (You can find more about titles and marketing in Bylaws Section 166).​

​​​Rel​ated BCCNM public notices

Review the following to see how not meeting BCCNM standards of practice can impact your nursing practice.


1. B.C.'s Medical Practitioners Regulation reserves the title “doctor" for health professionals registered under the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. However, the regulation allows for those with an academic designation like a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy), DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), or DN (Doctor of Nursing) to use the title “doctor."​

​​Need help or support?​

For further guidance on understanding and applying the standards of practice, contact our team by completing the Standards Support intake form.​

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Vancouver, BC  V6C 1S4

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We acknowledge the rights and title of the First Nations on whose collective unceded territories encompass the land base colonially known as British Columbia. We give specific thanks to the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking peoples the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh-ulh Sníchim speaking Peoples the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation), on whose unceded territories BCCNM’s office is located. We also give thanks for the medicines of these territories and recognize that laws, governance, and health systems tied to these lands and waters have existed here for over 9000 years.

We also acknowledge the unique and distinct rights, including rights to health and wellness, of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples from elsewhere in Canada who now live in British Columbia. As leaders in the settler health system, we acknowledge our responsibilities to these rights under international, national, and provincial law.​