Saskatchewan's nursing profession is applauding the Alberta government’s move to allow registered nurses (RNs) to prescribe drugs and order X-rays.
The expansion of their role will provide better access to medications and tests when the public needs them, according to Alberta’s health minister.
“We really do think Alberta has made the right move to give RNs that larger scope,” Tracy Zambory, the president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses told paNOW.
Zambory said RNs in this province with what’s known as an Advanced Authorized Practice RN(AAP) designation can prescribe drugs and do tests, but the union has been advocating for all RNs to graduate from their four year degree with the extra skills.
“This is exactly what a registered nurse should graduate with,” she said, noting it would require about another quarter year of instruction to secure the special designation. “We’re using this in remote and rural areas and there are all sorts of things the nurses can do when the doctor is not able to be there …and they can fill gaps.” These might include testing and prescribing drugs for certain common medical conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia and throat infections that require swift treatment, Zambory explained.
Asked what it would take to get all of Saskatchewan’s RNs trained with the AAP designation, she said it would involve conversations with the health ministry and educators and it was something that could be done if they put their heads together.
“If we want to make our health care the best in the world I think those are crucial conversations we can have, and I think it’s quite doable,” she said.
In the case of the new Alberta regulations the RNs there need to have significant clinical experience in the specific area of practice and must complete an approved nursing education program in prescribing.
In an email to paNOW, the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, gave an example of how things would work.
There may be long-term care homes where an authorized RN will be able to have a urinalysis done to confirm a urinary tract infection in a resident and prescribe the appropriate medication, eliminating the need to transport the resident via ambulance to the Emergency Department and back again.
Meanwhile the regulatory body for RNs in this province called Alberta’s move “progressive.”
In an emailed statement to paNOW, Jayne Naylen Horbach, the Interim Executive Director for the Saskatchewan Registered Nurses Association (SRNA), said in part , the amendments to Alberta’s regulations were " a progressive advancement for nursing practice.“
“As we continue to broaden the scope of RN practice in Saskatchewan with evidence-informed decisions, we will consider this framework to inform our decisions while working alongside our community partners and key stakeholders,” Horbach said.
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