Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario

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Nurse Practitioners improve your access to care

Their growing presence in Ontario means you probably know someone who has been treated by a nurse practitioner (NP).

NPs are registered nurses with additional education and legislated authority. In 2012, there were just over 2,000 in Ontario.

NPs are valuable assets to Ontario: they help to reduce wait times, allowing patients to transition through the health-care system more smoothly, which is why RNAO has spent years promoting their integral contributions, and pushing to widen their scope of practice.

NPs can diagnose and treat illnesses, set and cast bone fractures, and prescribe medications.

They are also able to admit and discharge patients, duties RNAO argued strongly in favour of because they improve Ontarians’ access to care.

RNAO believes that while NPs are now able to perform many more care acts than they were 10 years ago, there is still a long way to go.

The association, along with the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO), an expert group of RNAO, will continue to work to ensure NPs are able to: order CT scans, perform point-of-care lab tests, and apply forms of energy like a defibrillator (among a few). RNAO believes ensuring NPs can perform these responsibilities will help to improve patient flow even more.

RNAO’s advocacy, though, has not been limited to NPs’ abilities.

In the early 2000s, the association signaled it was strongly in favour of adding NP-led clinics to the province’s primary care landscape. Years of lobbying came to a head in 2007, when the province’s – and the nation’s – first NP-led clinic opened in Sudbury.

One year later, the provincial government promised to open 25 clinics in communities across Ontario, including Peterborough, Smiths Falls, Thunder Bay, Barrie and Belleville.

Since then, RNAO pushed for these clinics’ immediate opening. The faster these clinics open, the faster people have access to care, the association argued: in fact, it’s been estimated that as many as 800,000 people in Ontario do not have access to a primary care provider. Knowing this fueled RNAO’s urgency on the matter.

Influencing the government to make important changes to expand the NP role and to open NP-led clinics are two victories RNAO is very proud to be a part of.

At the end of the day, our success stories mean you’re more likely to receive quality care faster.

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