Upstream, long-term and visionary thinking
Role of NPs
In a province as progressive as Ontario, the fact that access to primary care remains a key challenge is unacceptable. In 2008, nearly one in 12 adults did not have a nurse practitioner (NP), family physician or other primary care provider. Nurse practitioners in community, long-term care and hospital settings have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and competencies to augment other roles and improve access to health services. This contrasts with physician assistants (PAs) who are unregulated and have limited education, training and experience. Where PAs can lead to public confusion and the fragmentation of patient care, nurse practitioners hold the key to providing high-quality, client-centred, cost-effective health care utilizing all health professionals to their full scope of practice.
NP-led clinics are improving access to primary care and quality of life for patients and their families across the province. The government’s commitment to open 25 new NP-led clinics by 2011, following in the footsteps of the successful NP-led clinic in Sudbury, must be followed by a further 50 new NP-led clinics by 2015. Dozens of communities are just waiting for the green light from the government to move forward.
Expand the Roles of Nurse Practitioners
- Amend statutes, regulations and policies to allow nurse practitioners to use their full knowledge, skills and experience and practise to their full scope. This includes authorizing NPs to admit, treat and discharge in in-patient settings.
- Support the full integration of specialty (hospital-based) nurse practitioners.
- Expand opportunities for NP continuing education with a focus on specialized NP practices.