Friday, February 27, 2015

MLA Rice salutes nurse practitioners, highlights challenges in recruitment

The work of the province's nurse practitioners received a shout out in the British Columbia Legislature on Thursday, as North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice praised their work and highlighted some of the challenges that the province's health system is having in filling vacant positions.

First by offering up a bit of background on the nature of the work:

 Nurse practitioners are tightly regulated and must undertake additional training beyond their registered nursing degree. These men and women perform up to 80 percent of the activities of a family physician, including, but not limited to, diagnosis, treatment, ordering lab tests, prescribing medication and admitting patients to hospital, if necessary. Without their presence in the health care system, many more Canadians would be forced to accessing health care through our hospital emergency rooms or simply have to go without.

Ms. Rice then drew the attention of the Legislature to the situation in Prince Rupert, where the current nurse practitioner has been away on maternity leave, with the province not yet having provided for someone to fill in for the position.

Where I live in Prince Rupert, we have one nurse practitioner, who is currently away on maternity leave. We wish Toby all the best as she embarks on the journey of raising her second child. Unfortunately, and commonly in rural B.C., recruiters were unable to temporarily fill her position while she is away. It's common to have these positions unfilled, even though we give lip service to their importance and need for more positions. It's a challenge we face here in British Columbia. With the current direction to increase access to primary care and decrease health cost pressures, nurse practitioners are an invaluable component to the health and well-being of British Columbians.

Ms Rice made her comments as part of the Member's Statements portion of the Thursday morning proceedings of the Legislature.

Nurse practitioners help to take some of the strain off of small to medium communities which may be suffering from doctor's shortages, usually based out of a medical clinic they provide a number of services that reduce the impact on emergency rooms across the province.

You can learn more about the Nurse Practitioner program in British Columbia from the British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association website.

You can review the full presentation from the Legislature record here, starting just before the 10:15 mark of the Hansard review.

For items related to Health issues on the North Coast see our archive page here.

For more background on MLA Rice's work in Victoria see our archive page here.

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