Too many Albertans cannot find a regular family doctor or have trouble getting an appointment with the one they have. Alberta’s government continues to support and stabilize primary health care across the province by enabling nurse practitioners to open their own clinics, take on patients and offer services based on their scope of practice, training and expertise. Typically nurse practitioners can provide about 80 per cent of the medical services a family physician provides, and this will be reflected in the compensation model when it’s finalized.
Nurse practitioners have completed graduate studies and are regulated by the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta. Like other regulated professions, all nurse practitioners must meet minimum requirements to practise and follow standards set by their regulatory college.
“Nurse practitioners are highly trained and valued medical professionals. By enabling them to open their own clinics, we are ensuring Albertans can more easily access the care they need. This is a significant improvement in our primary health care system that will benefit patients and help improve the overall health and health outcomes of Alberta families.”
As the province enables nurse practitioners to do more of the work they are trained to do, a new compensation model will be created to encourage them to operate independently, adding much-needed capacity to Alberta’s primary care system. Nurse practitioners are extensively trained in their graduate studies to assess, diagnose, treat, order and interpret diagnostic tests, prescribe medications, make referrals to a specialist and manage a person’s overall care.
In addition, through a $2-million grant over the next three years, the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta will help to implement a compensation model, recruit other nurse practitioners to participate and provide supports as they work to set up their own clinics.
“There is no doubt about it, we need more health professionals providing primary health care to Albertans. Nurse practitioners are skilled health care professionals who play vital roles in modern health care. This model has the potential to add capacity in communities across the province and help so many Albertans gain access to a regular primary care provider.”
The new compensation model will be phased in and is expected to launch in early 2024 when nurse practitioners who want to go into independent practice will be asked to submit expressions of interest. The model is expected to include payment for a specified number of clinical hours and other commitments, such as caring for a certain number of patients.
“The Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta is thrilled for the opportunity to support Albertans across the province in accessing a care provider in all health care environments, not just primary care. With this announcement and this grant, the association will be perfectly positioned to ensure that our members will be fully prepared to meet the needs of Albertans in both urban and rural communities. Until now, accessing a nurse practitioner has been challenging. This announcement ends those challenges. The NPAA looks forward to working with Alberta Health to get clinics open and to support NPs in being able to do the work that they are trained to do.”
Nurse practitioners who opt into the compensation model will also qualify for caseload supports once their patient caseloads are established, as announced on Oct. 18. The three-year $57-million support program will help primary health care providers manage an increasing number of patients. Each provider has the potential to receive up to $10,000 annually.
“The shortage of health care professionals in rural communities has always been a challenge that required innovative solutions. The new nurse practitioner model actively addresses this need by enhancing and expanding rural health care deliveries. This new initiative will enable rural Albertans to have better access to primary health care close to home.”
Alberta’s government will continue working with the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta and the College of Registered Nurses of Alberta as the compensation model is implemented.
- Strengthening health care: Improving access for all (Oct 18, 2023)