Expanding roles of NPs and CNSs

March/April 2017   Comments

A long time ago in a place far, far away from home (1974 in Hamilton, Ont.), I was a young, married RN. I was going to school; I was working part time; and I was pregnant. I was one of those folks who immediately developed symptoms of the patients I was working with. Thus, I was fully worked up about every prenatal worry imaginable. Luckily, I was dispatched to the prenatal clinic at McMaster University Medical Centre. There I met two of the most wonderful nurse practitioners. These advanced practice nurses patiently managed and monitored my prenatal progress and answered my never-ending questions. They were with me throughout my transition to become a mother. I will always remember them.

Years later at BC Children’s Hospital, I worked with some of the facility’s diverse group of clinical nurse specialists. The CNSs offered support, education and navigation to patients and families dealing with complex, chronic and sometimes life-threatening conditions. As I’d seen with the NPs, long-term relationships developed between these CNSs and patients in their care.

Fast forward to present day CNA. Following a broad consultation with nursing stakeholders, our nursing specialty groups, our provincial and territorial members and the International Council of Nurses, we have updated our position statements on NPs and CNSs. The documents reflect the recent expansion of these nursing roles — whether in scope, setting and models of care for NPs or in core competencies for CNSs. You will find the statements in this issue of Canadian Nurse and can access the full documents on our website at cna-aiic.ca/positions.

At CNA, we continue to lead and promote the integration of these two roles. CNA believes that fully optimizing NP and CNS practice in primary, community, long-term and acute care will help meet our country’s growing health-care needs. Though progress has been made to better integrate these roles into the health-care system, research suggests we are not yet fully optimizing NPs and CNSs and that more work needs to be done.

To our NP and CNS colleagues, thank you for the work you do and the role you play in advancing the sustainability of our health-care system.

To our employer colleagues, please read the position statements and consider whether there are opportunities to more fully benefit from the expertise of NPs and CNSs in your workforce. Better yet, do you have an opportunity to add an NP or a CNS to your staff complement?

Anne Sutherland Boal, RN, BA, MHSA

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