Letters: Nurse practioners serve seniors well

Local nurse practitioner wants recognition for work they do

I am a nurse practitioner (NP) practicing within VIHA and I think it is time nurse practitioners were seen in B.C.

The people I see in the Seniors’ Outpatient clinic at the Royal Jubilee Hospital are age 75 and older and referred, by their primary care provider (physician or NP) most commonly for mobility and memory issues. My role, along with the team members I work with, is to maintain the independence and ability of our senior citizens to function in the community; to avoid hospitalization and ultimately to assist with transition to facility care if needed. I regularly see elderly patients who use walk-in clinics to access health care as there are few family physicians taking on new patients, others are retiring with fewer new physicians taking their place. This situation leaves the elderly, who frequently have multiple health concerns without a primary care provider.  Nurse practitioners have the education and training to work with people of various ages and are keen to work with our physician colleagues to provide primary care for both young and old in our communities.

Nurse practitioners were introduced into B.C.’s health care system in 2005 to improve access to primary health care services for British Columbians.  NPs work with patients in hospitals and clinics in urban and rural settings across the province, yet our work has been mostly invisible.  There are over 200 nurse practitioners in B.C. and over 250,000 patients without regular primary care providers. It is time for people to know about nurse practitioners.

NPs in B.C. are Masters-prepared primary care providers, licensed to assess, diagnose and treat patients with common episodic and chronic medical conditions. NPs focus on preventive care but can also order diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, make referrals to specialists and manage overall care when a person is sick. In short, NPs are qualified to provide quality, cost effective safe and timely primary care services and would be a wonderful addition to the team at the West Coast Family Medical Clinic.

Nurse practitioners need to be seen in B.C, do you see an NP? For more information about BC’s nurse practitioners go to www.BCNPA.org

Coleen Heenan

Nurse Practitioner (Adult)

Sooke