Province expands role of nurse practitioners with legislation

Nurse practitioners were introduced in B.C. in 2005 to serve additional roles in areas like primary care

  • Nov. 4, 2011 9:00 a.m.

Nurse practitioners will be able to act as primary care providers for patients thanks to legislation passed by the provincial government on Tuesday that expands their role.

A number of statutes restrict nurse practitioners from providing services that are within their scope of practice. Removing these barriers creates more options when seeking medical opinions and improves access to government programs.

“We listened to the concerns brought forward by nurse practitioners about how they can fulfil their expanded role within the health-care system,” said health minister Mike de Jong.

“The amendments introduced today will empower nurse practitioners to provide patients with the care they need in a timely fashion.”

Nurse practitioners were introduced in B.C. in 2005 to fulfil additional roles in areas like primary care, chronic disease, disease prevention and health promotion. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with

additional education at the master’s degree level, and have an expanded scope of practice over traditional RN roles.

There are more than 200 nurse practitioners in B.C.

Nurse practitioners will now have the ability to provide certification  for pregnancy leave, parental leave, and for compassionate care leave.

Victims of psychological harm under the care of a nurse practitioner will no longer need a second opinion from a psychologist or doctor to qualify for assistance under Crime Victims Assistance Act.

The changes will also allow nurse practitioners to certify the health and fitness of their patients, should their patient be taken into custody, improving efficiency in the judicial system by expediting the processing of people into custody.