The government is funding 190 nurse practitioner (NP) positions over the next three years to provide better access to health care for British Columbian families.
The $22.2-million Nurse Practitioners for BC (NP4BC) initiative will begin this fall. NP4BC will provide opportunities for existing nurse practitioners, as well as new graduate nurse practitioners, to be fully integrated in the health-care system. The majority will be working in primary health-care settings, which can include public health offices, medical clinics, residential care or other community settings.
The 190 positions will support existing qualified nurse practitioners who have not been able to secure a nurse practitioner position, as well as ensuring that opportunities are there for newly-qualified nurse practitioners graduating in the future. Currently, 225 nurse practitioners are registered with the College of Registered Nurses of B.C. About 72 are presently not practising within their chosen profession, with the expectation of another 30 graduates this year.
B.C. has the ability to train up to 45 nurse practitioners a year, 15 at each of the University of British Columbia, the University of Northern British Columbia and the University of Victoria.
The health system is faced with increasing demands and costs driven by an aging, growing population and a higher prevalence of chronic diseases. This requires the Province to look for new and innovative approaches to service delivery, including nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioners were introduced to B.C. in 2005 to assist in improving access to primary health-care services. In fall 2011, the Province passed legislation allowing nurse practitioners to work fully within their existing scope of practice.
Michael de Jong, Minister of Health -
"Nurse practitioners want to fully participate in the health system within their full potential, and the government of British Columbia shares this goal. Today's announcement will create the opportunities for nurse practitioners to do the job they were trained for, which will provide better access to health care for British Columbia families."
Lorine Scott, president, BC Nurse Practitioner Association -
"We are pleased the provincial government is moving forward with plans to fund more nurse practitioner positions. This initiative will help increase access to health-care services in British Columbia, increase access to the benefits of nurse practitioner care for more British Columbians and provide increased opportunities for nurse practitioners in B.C."
Cynthia Johansen, registrar/CEO, College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia -
"The College of Registered Nurses of B.C. has been a collaborative partner in the integration of independent, full-scope nurse practitioners in B.C. Supports like the one announced today reinforce the message that nurse practitioners play an important role in primary health-care delivery in our province."
Dr. Grace Park, Surrey -
"As a family physician who has worked with nurse practitioners both in the community and the hospital, I welcome the NP4BC initiative. NPs working with FPs alongside other health-care providers to create interdisciplinary primary care teams, will help to address the complex needs of our vulnerable populations and provide the benefits of primary care to those most in need."
Dr. Blair Stanley, Trail -
"I have had the privilege of working collaboratively with nurse practitioner Lori Verigin in a primary-care setting for the last five years. The experience has been transformative for me and our patients. Shared care in a fully integrated model has been liberating. Our complementary scopes of practice allow comprehensive care for our patients. I feel so lucky to be practising with an NP."
Nurse practitioners can do the following:
- Meet many health-care needs of the community, increasing access to quality primary and community health care.
- Provide services from a holistic nursing perspective, integrating elements such as diagnosing, prescribing, ordering diagnostic tests for treating most common medical conditions for patients throughout the lifespan.
- Work in a broad variety of settings including acute care, residential care, mental health and community practice.
- Offer preventative health education and planning that encourages clients to be as healthy as possible and take an active role in health-care decisions.
For more information on nurse practitioners: www.bcnpa.org.
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of Health
250 952-1887 (media line)