Qualicum Beach-based nurse practitioner Kristin McKinnon says nurse practitioners can help alleviate the shortage of physicians by working in collaborative health care teams. — NEWS file photo

Qualicum Beach-based nurse practitioner Kristin McKinnon says nurse practitioners can help alleviate the shortage of physicians by working in collaborative health care teams. — NEWS file photo

Nurse Practitioners Week Nov. 12-18

There are close to 5,000 NPs in the country

The role of the nurse practitioner (NP) will be showcased Nov. 12-18, as NPs across the country celebrate their practice during National Nurse Practitioners Week.

In Canada, this group of health care professionals has grown to nearly 5,000 members, with additional NP students graduating each year.

NP practice offers a unique combination of nursing and health care service to patients. Focusing not only on diagnosing and managing acute and chronic illnesses, NPs integrate health promotion, disease prevention, counselling and patient education to help patients understand their complete health picture.

In a population that is aging, with baby boomers becoming seniors in growing numbers over the next 10 years, having choices about health care providers will become even more important.

In the Parksville Qualicum Beach area, local elected officials are looking into nurse practictioners having a billing number so they can work in doctors’ offices to help provide services. Qualicum Beach Mayor Teunis Westbroek said most of the work doctors do, can also be done by nurse practitioners.

The Town of Qualicum Beach, City of Parksville and the Regional District of Nanaimo are hoping to work with the provincial government to help with the shortage of doctors in the region.

RELATED: Local officials working with government on doctor shortage

Kristin McKinnon, a Qualicum Beach-based family nurse practitioner, said in a nurse practitioner fact sheet that NPs can work with other health-care providers as part of a collaborative team that includes registered nurses, doctors and social workers.

“NPs provide a full range of services, such as ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests; diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions; prescribing medications and treatments; and managing overall patient care,” McKinnon said in a written release.

“NPs bring together medical knowledge with the values and skills of nursing. NPs are also leaders, consultants and researchers who incorporate new knowledge into their practice.”

The Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada (NPAC-AIIPC) is the national professional membership organization for nurse practitioners (NPs) of all specialties. It represents the interests of close to 5,000 NPs, including approximately 1,300 individual members and 11 organizations.

NPAC provides legislative leadership at the local, provincial and national levels, advancing health policy; promoting excellence in practice, education and research; and establishing standards that best serve NP patients and other health care consumers. NPAC represents the interests of NPs as providers of high-quality, cost-effective, comprehensive and patient-centred health care.

For more information, visit npac-aiipc.org.

— Submitted by Kristin McKinnon, family nurse practitioner

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