Nurse Practitioners In Ontario
Nurse practitioners are highly educated and skilled health care professionals who provide a range of health care services in a variety of settings.
They are educated to provide front-line health care services, including health promotion, prevention of disease, counselling, therapeutic treatment, rehabilitation and support services. They work collaboratively with other health care professionals, including doctors. Nurse practitioners assess people for a wide range of health conditions, diagnose illnesses and monitor people with chronic diseases.
Ontario is proposing changes to authorize nurse practitioners to discharge hospital patients (effective July 1, 2011) and to admit patients into hospital (effective July 1, 2012). Both changes would be made through amendments under the Public Hospitals Act.
Ontario would be the first jurisdiction in Canada to allow nurse practitioners to admit and discharge hospital patients. Nurse practitioners already perform this activity in other countries, including the United States, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Ontario is committed to continuing to explore and examine opportunities to maximize the contribution of nurse practitioners in delivering accessible, high quality health care.
In December 2009, the government passed the Regulated Health Professions Statute Law Amendment Act, which removes limitations on and expands the scope of practice of NPs so they may provide a wider range of services to Ontarians, including:
- Prescribing, dispensing, compounding and selling drugs;
- Applying certain form of energy (e.g. diagnostic ultrasound);
- Setting or casting a fracture or dislocation of a joint; and
- Ordering X-rays without restrictions.
Improving Access To Family Health Care
Nurse practitioners are also playing a key role in improving access to family health care through nurse practitioner-led clinics. With six nurse practitioner-led clinics already open, the government is committed to opening 25 by the end of 2011/12. These clinics deliver comprehensive front-line services to patients who do not have access to a regular health care provider, and also offer additional programs tailored to the needs of their communities.