In­cen­tive, More Ca­pac­ity to Ed­u­cate Nurse Prac­ti­tion­ers

Pro­gram cov­ers ten nurse's salaries while they study; Vic­to­ria, In­ver­ness and Cape Bre­ton coun­ties amongst des­ig­nated ar­eas

The Victoria Standard - - Health / Community - HAL­I­FAX

A new in­cen­tive pro­gram and ad­di­tional seats at Dal­housie Univer­sity will help en­sure Nova Sco­tia has the nurse prac­ti­tion­ers it needs.

The Nurse Prac­ti­tioner Ed­u­ca­tion In­cen­tive will cover the salaries of up to 10 reg­is­tered nurses while they at­tend Dal­housie Univer­sity's two-year Mas­ter of Nurs­ing nurse prac­ti­tioner pro­gram full-time. In re­turn, re­cip­i­ents will com­mit to work in one of sev­eral des­ig­nated com­mu­ni­ties for five years.

An ex­pres­sion of in­ter­est will be is­sued to those ac­cepted to Dal­housie's nurse prac­ti­tioner pro­gram, fam­ily all-ages stream. Re­cip­i­ents will be selected based on whether they live in or are af­fil­i­ated with one of the des­ig­nated com­mu­ni­ties and are will­ing to re­lo­cate.

"Nurse prac­ti­tion­ers of­fer un­tapped po­ten­tial in clin­ics, hos­pi­tals and long-term care fa­cil­i­ties - par­tic­u­larly in un­der­served com­mu­ni­ties. Ed­u­cat­ing more nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, and al­low­ing them to work to their full scope of prac­tice, will go a long way in im­prov­ing ac­cess to care," says Nova Sco­tia Nurses' Union pres­i­dent Janet Hazel­ton. "Main­tain­ing their salary while in school al­lows the nurse to study full-time and re­turn to the sys­tem sooner than if they were un­paid and study­ing part-time."

The el­i­gi­ble geo­graphic ar­eas in­clude three of four coun­ties in Cape Bre­ton – Vic­to­ria County, In­ver­ness County and Cape Bre­ton County.

"I think it's fan­tas­tic the im­por­tance and ben­e­fit of nurse prac­ti­tion­ers and how they con­trib­ute to the health and well­ness of all Nova Sco­tians is be­ing rec­og­nized," says Cape Bre­ton reg­is­tered nurse Chris Browner. "This type of for­ward think­ing will im­prove ac­cess to health care and pro­mote well­ness in all ar­eas of the prov­ince, in­clud­ing those that may have lim­ited ac­cess to pri­mary health-care ser­vices."

An ar­range­ment with Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity will al­low stu­dents to com­plete some pro­gram re­quire­ments lo­cally, min­i­miz­ing the need to travel to Hal­i­fax.

"Ed­u­cat­ing more nurse prac­ti­tion­ers will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on the pri­mary health­care land­scape of the prov­ince," said Dr. Gail Tomblin Mur­phy, di­rec­tor School of Nurs­ing and As­sis­tant Dean Re­search Dal Fac­ulty of Health. "We are thrilled to be part of this so­lu­tion with our part­ners in gov­ern­ment, Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity and Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity."

Gov­ern­ment is also fund­ing an ad­di­tional 25 seats in Dal­housie's nurse prac­ti­tioner pro­gram. Fif­teen seats will be added this aca­demic year and 10 will be added in 2019-20. The to­tal four-year in­vest­ment is $1.6 mil­lion.

"Re­cruit­ment has be­come a chal­lenge in sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties, and this in­cen­tive will make a dif­fer­ence in our abil­ity to at­tract and re­tain nurse prac­ti­tion­ers," said Carmelle d'en­tremont, vice pres­i­dent of Peo­ple and Or­ga­ni­za­tional De­vel­op­ment, Nova Sco­tia Health Author­ity. "Nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, work­ing with fam­ily physi­cians and other col­lab­o­ra­tive fam­ily prac­tice team mem­bers, are en­hanc­ing ac­cess to com­pre­hen­sive care for Nova Sco­tians."

Gov­ern­ment will in­vest $1.4 mil­lion in the Nurse Prac­ti­tioner Ed­u­ca­tion In­cen­tive over two years.

These ini­tia­tives are part of Nova Sco­tia's Nurs­ing Strat­egy, de­signed to en­sure Nova Sco­tia has the right num­ber, mix and dis­tri­bu­tion of nurses now and in the fu­ture.

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