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Who should govern NPs?

June 21, 2022

Blog by Daris Klemmer, NP

So here it is one year later and NP governance is still a hot topic and truthfully even more so. NP governance is of increasing importance as legislation changes, NP scope of practice is becoming more solidified in the Alberta health care system and with more NPs practising to full scope. 

Who can govern NPs’ clinical practice? Physicians? Registered Nurses? Dieticians? All of those listed are current practices both within organizations and the community. The truth is none of the above. Because only NPs can govern NPs’ clinical practice. Think of how an NP might govern a midwife-well. I know that would definitely be beyond my scope.

So in order to move forward, how do we make NP governance happen? NPs in AHS and Covenant have unionized so likely there will be increasing demands for appropriate governance. But, how will NPs in community practice manage this? And who will determine NP’s clinical practice and its safety for NPs in primary care practice that work for Primary Care Networks(PCN) or private companies?

As many NPs working in AHS and Covenant know, the Provincial NP directors have been working on NP governance in the background to develop this truly needed change. However, there will be some culture change for this to move forward. Change this substantial will take a considerable amount of time and effort from organizations, private companies and on the individual NPs part. There will also need to be a better understanding from the overall public and other professions regarding the NP role and scope of practice. Part of this responsibility lies with our governing body CRNA and our association-hence this blog. I also believe there is a responsibility of NPs overall to complete research, publish papers, and promote their role in all aspects of work and public life. The development of newer profession-ie nurse practitioners, demands this. Every NP has this responsibility to become involved in their association, governing body, the new Alberta Nursing Association, the newly formed NP union, the Canadian NP Association, and this association (NPAA). As highly trained clinicians this is an expectation. I wonder how the midwives managed this as they negotiated their first contract with AHS in 2009? How did physicians think about forming the AMA in 1906 as a provincial affiliate of the CMA? 

There are just over 700 NPs in Alberta, if we all work together the task will not seem so monumental. I wonder how many NPs there will be in Alberta 10 years from now? What will the governance structure look like? For many of us that are close to finishing our career, to those just starting, the hand-off to new NPs with energy and enthusiasm for the NP profession will be important because the fate of NP governance is truly in the hands of NPs themselves. So get involved in some way to promote the NP role.  Our profession needs every NP working together to further solidify our role in the Albertan and Canadian Health Care System.