Registed Nurses' Association of Ontario


Nurse practitioner conference to hear that NPs key to primary health reform


TORONTO, Nov. 11, 2004 – The employment and full engagement of Ontario’s 650 nurse practitioners (NP) is pivotal to the success of government plans to transform primary health care, says the chair of the Nurse Practitioners’ Association of Ontario (NPAO) which is co-hosting a national conference in Toronto this Friday and Saturday.

Theresa Agnew, whose association is part of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO), said NPs must be fully integrated into the targeted 150 family health teams that the provincial government is planning to establish. She added that the way NPs are trained and practice makes them uniquely qualified for the interdisciplinary approach to health care that the government is encouraging, both in family health teams and in its tentative deal with the doctors on which physicians are currently voting.

“As the Ontario government tries to transform health care and build a true system of services, nurse practitioners (NPs) can and must play a central role in ensuring that the public gets both improved access to services and better care,” says Agnew.

During the conference, which is co-hosted by NPAO and RNAO’s Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence, about 400 NPs will learn more about policy and practice issues – from the expanded role of NPs across Canada, to the latest in infection control from a leading international authority, to NP expertise in such areas as Hepatitis C and childhood obesity. Conference speakers include:

  • Minister of Health and Long-Term Care George Smitherman, who will make an announcement about nurse practitioners, Fri., Nov. 12 at noon.
  • Dr. Donald Low, MD, FRCPC, of Mount Sinai Hospital who will present on infection control.
  • Michael Rachlis, MD, MSc, FRCPC, a health policy analyst, will present Nurse Practitioners in Canada: Finally Allowed on Prime Time.
  • Alba DiCenso, RN, PhD, will speak about the integration of nurse practitioners into the health-care system in a presentation entitled Full Integration of NPs into Ontario’s Health Care System - Getting Closer and Closer.
  • Laurel Satov, RN(EC) and Cheryl Ravazzolo, RN(EC) will examine the nurse practitioner’s role in Hepatitis C treatment.
  • A dietitian, doctor and kinesiologist will participate in a panel session on obesity in children and adults.

“There has never been a better time for nurse practitioners to help shape the future of health care,” said RNAO acting executive director Irmajean Bajnok. “More and more, they are embraced as an excellent solution to improving public access to quality health care. The government’s recent funding of community health centres, for example, means that NPs will be able to provide health care to thousands of citizens living in communities long in need of access to health services.”

Officially designated Registered Nurse (Extended Class), or RN(EC), NPs are registered nurses with additional education who work with individuals, families, groups and communities. Like all registered nurses, their focus on health promotion and disease prevention facilitates comprehensive health-care reform. Key members of any health-care team, nurse practitioners work in diverse health-care settings, from community health centres to doctors’ offices to hospitals, nursing homes and home care. They diagnose, prescribe and administer medications, order medical tests, conduct Pap smears, educate, and refer patients to other health-care professionals such as nutritionists and social workers.

WHAT: 2004 Annual Nurse Practitioner Conference: Creating a Vision for the Future
Organized by NPAO, an interest group of RNAO, and RNAO’s Centre for Professional Nursing Excellence.


  • Theresa Agnew, RN(EC), BScN, BA(SDS), Chair, NPAO
  • Hon. George Smitherman, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
  • Dr. Donald Low, MD, FRCPC, Microbiologist-in-Chief, Department of Microbiology, Mount Sinai Hospital
  • Michael Rachlis, MD, MSc, FRCPC, Health Policy Analyst and Author of Prescription for Excellence
  • Alba DiCenso, RN, PhD, McMaster University
    Laurel Satov, RN(EC) and Cheryl Ravazzolo, RN(EC)

WHERE: Toronto Marriott Eaton Centre, Grand Ballroom, 525 Bay St., Toronto


  • 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Friday, Nov. 12
  • 8:45 a.m. to 5:10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 13, 2004

The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario (RNAO) is the professional association representing registered nurses wherever they practise in Ontario. Since 1925, RNAO has lobbied for healthy public policy, promoted excellence in nursing practice, increased nurses’ contribution to shaping the health-care system, and influenced decisions that affect nurses and the public they serve.


For more information, please contact:
Marion Zych, Director of Communications, RNAO
Phone: 416-408-5605
Toll free: 1-800-268-7199 ext.209
Cell: 647-406-5605