Story by Jennifer Lee/CBC
Alberta’s nurse practitioners say many new graduates are not finding jobs and they want the province to do something about it.
Nurse practitioners (NPs) have more training than RNs, allowing them to diagnose, order tests and prescribe drugs.
Their services cost the province less than the same procedures billed to Alberta Health by doctors.
But the president of the Alberta Association of Nurse Practitioners, Eric Lavoie, says NPs just aren’t being used.
“About 75 per cent of new graduates or recent graduates are not finding employment in their field,” he said.
“And this flies in the face of countless reports that are provincial and national in scope that calls for the immediate integration and utilization of nurse practitioners.”
Alberta Health Minister Sarah Hoffman says the department is working on a long-term workforce plan.
But there is no word on when any changes will come.
Candice Lazarenko, who put her career as an RN on hold to go back to school for two more years, just graduated as a nurse practitioner.
“I’ve looked all over Alberta. Now I’m actually having to look out of province to see if I can get employment,” she said.
Lavoie says the biggest barrier is the lack of a direct funding model.
“For example, if a rural community can’t find a physician — a family doctor — to service their community, they could find a nurse practitioner,” he said.
But that clinic must pay a nurse practitioner’s salary out of its own budget, while a doctor is paid directly by the province.