To the Editor,
Re: Nurse practitioners hope to ease pressure on health-care system, Nov. 3.
Bravo to the Vancouver Island Health Authority for employing two nurse practitioners and applause to the nurses who have worked hard and committed themselves to this emerging role in health care.
At least 10 years ago, Roy Romanov, head of the Commission on the Future of Health Care, spent much time, effort and care to explore how the health-care system could be made more efficient and responsive. He not only asked questions of stakeholders, he listened to the answers and suggestions. Among the suggestions was one to make better use of nurse practitioners.
The problems in terms of procedures can be solved by providing protocols for both NPs and doctors to guide their practice. When something goes wrong there are policies and procedures. If the patient is hospitalized, the nurse calls the doctor.
A housebound patient with a chronic disease can be seen more quickly by an NP. If hospitalization is indicated, the NP can admit the patient and appropriate treatment can be initiated hours, if not days, sooner than if the patient either waited for a doctor appointment or went to the emergency room.
There is an issue with NPs having their own panel of patients. Let’s not forget the utilization of nurse practitioners is always under the supervision of a physician or a group of physicians. If a patient is not responding to a given protocol, the NP can always consult with the doctor to change the treatment that is not effective. Just as there is an atmosphere of trust between a patient and his/her doctor, there is a similar trust between the doctor and the nurse practitioner.
Based on my experience, utilizing nurse practitioners within their scope of practice is a win for all concerned: the physicians who are overworked, the clients who are waiting too long for care; and the nurses with expanded training who can assist both the doctor and the patient.