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Canadian Nurses Association says ‘It’s about time’

CNA’s campaign says it’s about time Canadians consider nurse practitioners
as the answer to greater access to better health care.

Ottawa, Monday, October 22, 2012 — The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) campaign to raise awareness about nurse practitioners (NPs), which focuses on how NPs improve access to quality health care and reduce wait times, is being launched today in British Columbia. Almost five million Canadians are without access to a primary health-care provider, while those that have one often have difficulty accessing care. The result is an unsustainable, heavily burdened and overcrowded health-care system. As the national professional voice of registered nurses (RNs), CNA strongly believes that adding more NPs will improve access, lead to a greater number of health-care options and enhance care for the whole patient.

“Nurse practitioners have been an important part of Canada’s health-care system for decades,” said CNA president Barb Mildon. “But Canadians would get a lot more benefit if the health-care system allowed more NPs to work to their full scope of practice. Given the current strains on our system, there’s no better time to harness the full capabilities and expertise of NPs. They’re an existing resource with a track record for improving Canadians’ access to primary health care.”

NPs are RNs with additional education, advanced knowledge and nursing experience, who work collaboratively with other nursing colleagues and health-care providers. They deliver and coordinate high-quality care, order tests, prescribe medications, and diagnose and manage chronic illnesses. NPs are part of health-care teams in a variety of settings, including community clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing homes and hospitals. In B.C., Alberta and Ontario, NPs have authority to admit and discharge patients in hospitals and other facilities.

There are currently 246 NPs registered to practise in B.C. They practise in both rural and urban areas and in community and acute-care settings. For many patients, NPs are their primary and most consistent link to health care and health information. B.C’s health-care system is now under the strain of managing chronic diseases such as obesity, kidney disease, hypertension and diabetes. These are complex health problems, which, as people age, will become more difficult and costly to treat, especially in light of the rapid growth in urban populations and the corresponding decline in rural populations. These changing needs require a sustainable plan to deliver timely and quality health care for British Columbians as a top priority.

“We are pleased and encouraged by the important developments taking place in British Columbia,” said Susan Duncan, president of the Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (ARNBC). “Between funding more NP positions and allowing NPs to admit and discharge patients, this province’s government is taking decisive action on improving patient care. NPs play an essential role in meeting the growing and changing needs of our population. This campaign will inform decision-makers and the public about the value of NPs as essential members of the province’s health workforce.”

Rosemary Graham, president of the British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association (BCNPA) says “it would be ideal if all British Columbians had the choice to see a nurse practitioner. NPs want to work together with other care providers to deliver quality care, timely access and shorter wait times. We know NPs have a significant and positive impact on the health-care system, and our hope is that this campaign will inspire British Columbians to ask questions about what an NP can do for them!”

The campaign — whose slogan is “Nurse Practitioners: It’s About Time!” — is led by CNA, in conjunction with ARNBC and BCNPA. First launched in October 2011, the CNA campaign targets Canada’s various jurisdictions to create a regional focus on the value of NPs. For more information about CNA’s NP campaign and to access interactive tools, such as video and letters to government, please visit www.npnow.ca.

The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) is the national professional voice of registered nurses in Canada. A federation of 11 provincial and territorial nursing associations and colleges representing 146,788 registered nurses, CNA advances the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen Canada’s publicly funded not-for-profit health system.

The Association of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (ARNBC) is a professional association and policy voice for B.C. nurses and is a jurisdictional member of the Canadian Nurses Association.

BC Nurse Practitioner Association (BCNPA) is the voice of NPs in British Columbia. Working together the BCNPA is creating positive change in the health of British Columbians.


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Kate Headley, External Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Telephone: 613-237-2159, ext. 561
Cell: 613-697-7507
E-mail: kheadley@cna-aiic.ca