Alberta’s government is providing $3.1 million for Phase 2 of the Primary Care Network (PCN) NP Support Program. The program is designed to increase the number of NPs in the health system and provide more access to timely care.
“Primary care is the foundation of a high-performing health system, and nurse practitioners are an under-used resource. Funding more NPs as part of the PCN team makes better use of the expertise of NPs to increase access, especially in rural and underserved locations where the need is greatest.”
NPs are experienced registered nurses with advanced education who can diagnose and treat patients, providing services like ordering tests and prescribing medications.
“The NPAA is pleased to see the continued commitment by the government to provide ongoing funding for the PCN NP Support Program. We look forward to continuing our work with the government in utilizing NPs to their full scope to serve the health-care needs of Albertans by improving access to primary care providers.”
The NP support program began in 2019 to improve access to primary care, especially in high demand areas. There were 24 new full-time NPs hired in Phase 1. An additional 27 NPs were grandfathered from previous programs for a total of 51 NPs currently in the program.
Alberta’s government is committed to supporting NPs to work to the full scope of their skills and knowledge. Examples of recent changes include:
- Updating ambulance regulations to allow NPs to work as medical directors and provide real-time medical advice to paramedics.
- Allowing NPs to act as independent primary care providers in nursing homes.
- Authorizing NPs to complete driver medical examination forms.
The government will continue evaluating how best to support NPs in the health-care system, including considering alternate funding frameworks.
- There are about 730 NPs in Alberta. They currently work in Alberta Health Services or PCNs.
- 29 of Alberta’s 40 PCNs are currently participating in the NP support program.
- PCNs can submit expressions of interest for Phase 2 of the support program from July 21 to Aug. 27.
- PCNs must outline how one or more of these priority areas will be addressed: increasing access to primary health-care services, such as after hours, on weekends and in rural/remote areas; meeting unmet demand for primary health-care services; providing care to underserved populations; and supporting chronic disease management.
- To qualify for the funding, PCNs must also utilize NPs as autonomous providers in primary health care-based settings and have them work to the full extent of their education, skills and experience.