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An underutilized resource: Investigating the role implementation of nurse practitioners in BC's primary care system

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Author: Chan, Helen
Nurse practitioners (NP) are registered nurses who hold a Master’s degree in nursing and are trained to practise autonomously within a collaborative healthcare system. Extensive evidence indicates that NPs provide high-quality, patient-centred care; as a result, the BC Ministry of Health introduced the NP role in 2005 to help the province meet a growing demand for primary care. However, despite some targeted initiatives, NPs continue to be underutilized. Interviews with NPs and key stakeholders, coupled with a thorough literature review, are used to identify the barriers preventing NP role implementation in BC’s primary care system. While many barriers were identified, the absence of an appropriate funding mechanism was found to be the most significant barrier to NP role implementation, ultimately limiting their utilization in the primary care system. Policy recommendations centre on developing a sustainable funding model that allows NPs to practise autonomously in multiple primary care settings.
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