Recognizing the vital role nurse practitioners play in supporting the health needs of patients, Interior Health and UBCO’s School of Nursing have joined together over the last 18 months to conduct research aimed at improving the ways nurse practitioners are utilized in our health care system.
“Nurse practitioners are a highly important part of care teams across the province that are helping to focus on delivering patient-centred care,” said B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake. “Partnerships like the one between the University of British Columbia and Interior Health are bringing attention to the great work done by these health professionals.”
The study sparked from a 2012 conversation at the Interior Health Rural Health Services Research Conference. Conference participants began discussing how they could use research as a means of supporting collaboration between NPs and Interior Health, particularly in primary care.
The research included a detailed literature review, interviews and full-day stakeholder workshops and resulted in a number of recommendations to clarify the role of NPs and promote their integration within the health-care system.
“The results of our research led us to developing a series of three informational videos about NPs, how they work within the health-care team and the impact they have on the health-care system,” said Donna Mendel, regional practice leader for IH’s Professional Practice Office.
The NP videos can be used to raise awareness and increase understanding for patients, families, health-care providers, physicians and administrators of the role of the NP.
“We are thrilled with the outcome of this research study,” said Nelly Oelke, assistant professor for the School of Nursing at UBCO. “It has prompted discussions and action in NP integration, strengthened partnerships between researchers and decision-makers and will provide the foundation for future research.”
Nurse practitioners work in partnership with physicians and other health care professionals to provide quality care to people of all ages, families, groups and communities. NPs 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.
Within Interior Health, there are currently 40 NPs working in a variety of settings including: caring for the elderly in residential care, partnering in care with First Nations communities, providing primary care in a number of rural communities and caring for patients in the cardiac and thoracic programs.