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Legislation builds on support for nurse practitioners

p 8 nurses smNurse practitioners will be further integrated into the health-care system under recently-introduced legislation that will expand their scope and opportunities. Nurse practitioners –  registered nurses with additional education at the master’s degree level, and an expanded scope of practice – were introduced in BC in 2005 to fulfil additional roles in areas like primary care, chronic disease, disease prevention and health promotion.

Under the amended legislation, nurse practitioners will be able to officially sign off on a wide range of routine legal and administrative documents that verify they have examined or treated a patient. Previously, this paperwork needed to be signed by a physician who may have had no prior relationship with the patient. The amendments also add nurse practitioners to the list of qualified practitioners able to complete WorkSafeBC documentation. Previously, WorkSafeBC required an injured worker’s documentation to be signed by a physician, chiropractor, dentist, naturopathic physician or podiatrist.

The amendments also build on other previous announcements the provincial government has made for nurse practitioners, including the Nurse Practitioner for BC program designed to fund 135 new nurse practitioners over three fiscal years. As a result of this program, currently 87 of the 135 new nurse practitioner positions are awarded. At this time, there are 278 fully and provisionally licensed nurse practitioners in the province.

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