The province is rolling out $115 million in funds over the next three years to create 200 new nurse practitioner jobs over three years.
Speaking at UBC’s Vancouver campus Wednesday, Health Minister Adrian Dix said that the funding was part of the province primary-care strategy.
“Nurse practitioners are highly trained healthcare professionals and they’re essential members of any real primary care team,” said Dix.
“These new positions will mean a total of 626 nurse practitioners working in communities throughout the province.”
More details on the strategy are expected to be announced by Premier John Horgan Thursday.
The province had previously said it would be moving towards nurse practitioners as a patient’s first point of contact with the medical system, as the health ministry launched a new research strategy.
Dix said that the 200 new nurse practitioners will fill the gaps for the many thousands of B.C. residents who don’t have a family doctor or nurse practitioner.
“There are, in B.C., 780,000 people who are unattached to a primary care provider,” said Dix.
“A third of the people who visit emergency rooms say that they wouldn’t go to emergency rooms if they could go to a clinic on that day.”
Fiona Hutchison, president of the BC Nurse Practitioners Association, said that nurse practitioners were originally introduced in B.C. in the early 2000s to help with primary care.
“Nurse practitioners have a background in registered nursing and have gone on to clinically-focused, masters-level education,” said Hutchison.
That allows the to “autonomously assess, diagnose and manage acute and chronic health conditions.”
In B.C., nurse practitioners are also able to prescribe opioids.
Just over a million dollars will go towards creating 30 new nurse practitioner seats at B.C. universities.
Of those, 15 will be at UBC, 10 at the University of Victoria and five at the University of Northern B.C.
More to come.