Nurse practitioners can diagnose and treat illnesses, set and cast bone fractures, and prescribe medications. They are registered nurses with additional education and legislated authority.
They are also able to admit and discharge patients, duties RNAO argued strongly in favour of because they improve Ontarians’ access to care.
NPs are valuable to Ontario’s health system: they help to reduce wait times, allowing you to transition through the system more smoothly, which is why RNAO has spent years promoting their integral contributions, and pushing to broaden their role. As of 2014, there were more than 2,400 NPs in Ontario.
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 will continue to work to ensure NPs are able to: order CT scans, perform point-of-care lab tests, apply forms of energy like a defibrillator, and prescribe controlled substances (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 advocacy came to a head in 2007, when the province’s – and the country’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. These clinics are now operational, ensuring thousands receive care. The association has also called for existing NP-led clinics to be able to expand as needed. For example, the Lakehead NP-led clinic in Thunder Bay has the infrastructure to support the addition of more NPs and registered nurses, but not enough funding for these positions.
Influencing the government to make important changes to expand the NP role and ensure adequate compensation for NPs will continue to be on RNAO’s radar.
At the end of the day, our success stories mean you’re more likely to receive quality care faster.