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UBC Reports | Vol. 51 | No. 5 | May 5, 2005

A New Breed of Health-Care Providers

By Hilary Thomson

UBC will celebrate B.C.’s newest providers of health-care services when the first graduates of the nurse practitioner program pick up their Master of Science in Nursing degrees this month.

The two-year program can qualify a maximum of 15 nurses to provide primary care such as diagnosing, prescribing, and referring to specialists. Nurse practitioners will work independently or in collaboration with other health professionals in the community.

“These students are willing to push the boundaries of their skills,” says Gloria Joachim, a UBC associate professor of Nursing and program director. “They’re a dedicated group -- many have given up full-time jobs to be part of this program.”

Students entering the program hold bachelor or master degrees in nursing. They study topics such as advanced health assessment and pharmacology and complete more than 700 hours of practical experience. This hands-on clinical learning is a key difference between nurse practitioners’ education and other graduate nursing degrees.

“The blend of medicine and nursing really attracted me,” says grad Janet Baillies, a nurse with 28 years’ experience as a manager and director who wanted to return to clinical practice. “I was able to broaden my clinical experience learning from patients and expert physicians. I’ve been offered a job in a dynamic clinic and look forward to making a difference in how people cope with health issues.”

Students have completed practicums at clinics, hospitals and private practices in the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley and in Bella Bella, on B.C.’s west coast.

“We know that professionals tend to work where they are trained,” says Joachim, who will soon be qualified as a nurse practitioner herself. “I anticipate our grads will stay and work in B.C., as one component in addressing the crisis in primary care.”

Joachim has been very impressed with how government, the Registered Nurses Association of B.C., the Chief Nursing Officers and post-secondary institutions have worked together in what she calls “a wonderful collaboration” to get the program off the ground.

“These grads will be excellent providers who know their limitations and will help shape public perception about this new way of delivering primary care.”

For more information on nurse practitioners, visit www.nursing.ubc.ca.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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