Saturday April 19, 2014





Nurse practitioners have much to offer health care

Your series on rural health care pointed out the gaps, the concerns and the changes facing many communities due to a shortage of doctors and doctor’s hours. You did mention nurse practitioners and I would encourage another article devoted to this excellent practitioner.

As taxpayers, we produce them at the masters level at universities and yet they are not well used.

Part of the reason is that we do not have health-care administrators who understand or study the role, and doctors continue to resist incorporating them.

Keeping the population healthy, particularly those living with chronic illness and the experiences associated with aging, are well within the scope of practice of nurse practitioners, who work collaboratively with doctors and complement doctors’ knowledge and skills. More nurse practitioners would reduce the need for more doctors.

The first research on the role of the nurse practitioner was done in Canada in 1972 showing that both doctors and patients loved working with them and yet, the resistance continues.

Smaller communities need nurse practitioners to allow those very busy doctors to do the doctoring. Nurse practitioners can do much of the primary care.

The public needs to start to demand access to nurse practitioners. I have taught them and worked with them — they are excellent. 

Nurse practitioners, with the same incentives offered to doctors, would serve many of the needs of rural and urban communities very well.

Kamloops, already short of family physicians, could well be served by more nurse practitioners. In New Zealand, one drives down a street and sees signs advertsing nurse practitioner practices and mid-wifery clinics.

We could, or should, have the same.

The doctors will still be very busy but emergency departments will be less stressed. It is a group of health-care practitioners that are much underutilized.

Please, do an article on this role so the public can participate in ensuring access to their care.

COLLEEN STAINTON

Retired nursing professor

Kamloops





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