AB Government: More nurse practitioners to improve access to care
September 17, 2019
Through $3 million in government funds, more people in rural and remote Alberta will be able to get health care from up to 30 new nurse practitioners.
The nurse practitioners will work in Primary Care Networks and medical clinics in communities where many patients don’t have a family doctor or have difficulty accessing them.
“We’re delivering on our campaign commitment to add more nurse practitioners, to give people in underserved communities more access to primary care and other health services. Nurse practitioners are valuable, skilled health-care professionals, and we look forward to working with them to strengthen our publicly funded health system.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health
As experienced registered nurses with advanced education, the nurse practitioners see and diagnose patients in the community, and can provide annual checkups, order tests and prescribe medications. They will work with patients from underserved populations, increasing access to care for Indigenous people, adolescents with mental health needs and for people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cardiac disease. Some will also be hired to work on weekends and evenings, when medical clinics are traditionally closed. This can help reduce unnecessary visits to hospital emergency departments.
“Given the recent findings of the MacKinnon report, the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta looks forward to continuing to work on innovative and cost-effective models of health-care delivery with the government. As a nurse practitioner, I am pleased to see the expansion of nurse practitioner roles within Primary Care Networks – roles which allow nurse practitioners to work to their fullest potential with each member working to their unique scope. This announcement also allows Albertans to select the best primary care provider to meet their health needs.”
Anne Summach, upcoming vice-president, Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta
Recruitment begins soon for new nurse practitioners across Alberta, including:
- Aspen Primary Care Network in northern Alberta, to provide services for many Treaty 8 First Nations in the area (such as Driftpile and Bigstone Cree) and Metis Settlements (including Peavine and Gift Lake).
- Bow Valley Primary Care Network, to provide services in the areas of Banff, Canmore and Lake Louise, where patients currently have to seek care through hospital emergency departments.
- Bonnyville Primary Care Network, where 600 patients are currently on a wait-list for a doctor.
- Edmonton Southside Primary Care Network, to increase services for foster children at the Covenant Health Foster Care Clinic.
- Sherwood Park-Strathcona County Primary Care Network, to provide services in the hospital’s opioid dependency clinic.
- There are about 600 nurse practitioners registered in Alberta.
- About 73 per cent – or around 445 nurse practitioners – work in hospitals, acute care facilities or specialty out-patient clinics.
- About 50 nurse practitioners currently work in Primary Care Networks, collaborating with health-care teams of physicians and other health-care professionals, such as pharmacists, dieticians, psychologists or social workers.
- With new government funding for the Primary Care Network Nurse Practitioner Support Program, 30 additional full-time nurse practitioners will be working in primary care settings.
- There are 41 Primary Care Networks in Alberta.
Press Secretary, Health