The Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec–FIQ was very pleased to hear the announcement earlier today about the new regulation for specialty nurse practitioners (SNPs). These changes will improve access to care and allow patients to benefit further from SNPs’ skills, provided that efforts are made to eliminate current obstacles in their practice.
Giving SNPs who deliver front-line care the opportunity to initiate treatments for six chronic health issues (diabetes, high blood pressure, hypercholesterolemia, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases and hypothyroidism) is a major step forward for the Quebec population. Before, only physicians could initiate these treatments, while in the rest of Canada, SNPs were already authorized to conduct these activities for patients.
The FIQ would also like to acknowledge the broadening of SNPs practice settings, especially in CHSLDs, and the fact that they will have more latitude with prescribing medication. Measures like these are essential if Quebec is to reach the goal set by the Ministère de la Santé of having 2,000 SNPs by 2024-2025, when there are currently less than 500.
Breaking down obstacles
“This is good news both for SNPs and patients when you consider the obstacles in the practice settings, which could also hinder these changes,” explained FIQ president, Nancy Bédard. Conditions that discourage the attraction and retention of SNPs include: a lack of understanding of their role in care settings, poor integration and insufficient access to on-the-job training.
There is also concern over partnership agreements with physicians, which will now have to be completed by all SNPs. These agreements should encourage interprofessional collaboration, but the FIQ has seen situations where, unfortunately, it has led to medical monitoring of the SNPs’ practice. The FIQ is pleased that the Collège des médecins is showing an openness to other healthcare professionals but it is still not the norm in many practice settings. There is an urgent need to implement measures in all institutions to promote SNPs’ professional independence.