BC’s Health Minister has made an announcement he says will be transformative to the health care system.
Adrian Dix says the province is creating 200 new nurse practitioner positions to support patients as part of a shift to a team-based primary health-care system.
“What does this mean? It means diagnosing and treating illnesses, ordering and interpreting tests, prescribing medications and performing medical procedures. Nurse practitioners are a patient-centered solution to improving access to not more care, but better care,” Dix told a news conference at UBC in Vancouver.
Dix says the positions are being supported by $115 million over three years, to secure NPs’ employment in primary care settings throughout BC.
Nurse practitioners are health practitioners who can work on their own, or with physicians and other health professionals, to provide care across a person’s life span.
There are 426 practicing NPs in B.C. The new positions will make a total of 626 NPs working in communities throughout the province.
“This move is backed by the largest investment in NPs in the province’s history, and is a critical building block of a broader plan to improve access to primary health care,” adds Dix.
The distribution of nurse practitioner positions will be based on regions with the highest need of primary care services. The positions will be available to new graduates, as well as current nurse practitioners, who wish to work to their full scope of practice in a primary care setting.
“This is great news for nurse practitioners and British Columbians in need of primary care,” said Fiona Hutchison, president of the British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association. “Fully integrating additional nurse practitioners into our provincial health-care system enables us to be more fully utilized and work to our full scope of practice – something we’ve been calling on for some time.”
As well, $1.2 million over two years will fund an additional 30 nurse practitioner education seats. Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, 15 additional nurse practitioner seats will be added at the University of British Columbia (UBC), five seats at the University of Victoria (UVIC) and five seats at the University of Northern British Columbia.