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As reported yesterday, Sam Solomon, has left the blog to continue his studies in law school. Reports of the death of Canadian Medicine News were greatly exaggerated. It continues with regular contributions from David Elkins and other medical and health policy writers.
Ten years ago the idea of nurse practitioners was controversial, five years ago it was lauded as a solution to access to primary care and now, in most provinces, NPs are considered essential.
Nurse practitioners prescribe medication, order diagnostic tests follow patients and take the load off practitioners -- and the health care system. Canada needs more them, not fewer except, apparently, in Quebec where there are only 59. Ontario employs 1,900 up from about 1,400 three years ago.
In 2007, McGill's School of Nursing began a nurse practitioner program but so far it's been funded by the Faculty of Medicine with little help from the provincial government, says the Director of the School of Nursing, Dr Helene Ezer.
On March 10, Abbott Labs stepped up to support the program with a donation of $100,000. Said Jeff Devlin, General Manager, Abbott International, Canada: “Nurses and nurse practitioners comprise an essential component of our health care system. They play an extremely important role in the lives of Canadian patients. We must support their development to improve health care delivery.”
Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc was not as generous. His only comment: "(The government) remains committed to hiring 500 nurse practitioners over the next five years." Quebec teaching universities contend that there will be few to hire unless the government meets another commitment -- to put more money into NP training.
Bolduc maintains, "It's a new program that we're going to put in place in Quebec, and we have to develop the teachers. We have discussions with the universities and we're going to have a program in the next few years."
The first Quebec NPs will be graduating in June.
In a related item, yesterday Quebec's medical specialists joined general practitioners in support of the province's largest nurses' union, the 58,000 member Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec. representing 58,000 nurses.
The doctors blamed the government for the severe nursing shortage -- estimated at 2,500 --that is crippling overcrowded ERs and causing operating room delays.
Posted by David Elkins and others at 5:46 PM