The number of nurse practitioners (NPs) practicing within the Interior Health Authority continues to climb as a result of a recruitment strategy and focused efforts to enhance primary care.
Seven new NPs have been hired since this summer alone. There are currently 51 NPs across IHA, up from 21 in 2012. These include NPs in a range of roles and communities, including casual, part-time and full-time.
“Since their introduction in B.C. just over 10 years ago, nurse practitioners have played a vital role in health care, working in unique circumstances with an emphasis on team care,” said Health Minister Terry Lake.
“Their expertise is allowing us to support communities as a whole while also focusing on the health of key groups of patients. For example, within Interior Health, there are several nurse practitioners with strong rural practice backgrounds, as well as those who specialize in working with marginalized populations.”
Nurse practitioners support IHA’s efforts to shift the focus of health care from hospital to community programs and services, focusing on key populations.
IHA says the shift is happening across B.C. and around the world because the population is changing.
People are living longer, and they often have more complex medical needs and prefer to live at home from birth to death.
“NPs are nurses with specialized training who administer quality primary care services for patients, including those without a family doctor, or target populations, such as frail, elderly patients or those with mental health and substance use issues,” said Erwin Malzer, IHA board chairperson.
Nurse practitioners work in partnership with physicians and other health care professionals.
They are registered nurses with additional education at the master’s level and are qualified to diagnose and treat illnesses, order tests, prescribe medications, manage, monitor and review chronic health conditions.
“Across Interior Health, NPs are working in a variety of settings including residential care, partnering in care with First Nations communities, providing primary care in a number of rural communities and caring for patients in some specialty acute care programs,” said Donna Mendel, director of advanced nursing practice for IHA.
Nov. 13 to 19 is National Nurse Practitioner Week.
Katy McLachlan has been an NP since 2010, and she joined the Enderby Health Centre this August after moving from Vancouver.
“It’s a really good position in an established, well integrated primary care practice. I see patients of all ages, from birth right through death,” she said.
“We like the small town feeling. I’ve already got my season’s pass for the local ski hill and I love seeing my patients out at the coffee shop.”
For more information about NPs, visit IHA’s YouTube channel to check out an online video created in partnership with UBC Okanagan.