Quebec nurse practitioners will be able to take on patients waiting for family doctor

Click to play video: 'Quebec’s nurse practitioners to take on patients waiting for a family doctor'
Quebec’s nurse practitioners to take on patients waiting for a family doctor
WATCH: Some nurse practitioners in Quebec will soon be getting more responsibilities. – Apr 11, 2024

It’s unchartered territory for nurse practitioners in Quebec, who specialize in primary care.

Beginning next week, some will be able to take on patients who are waiting for a family doctor.

“Before this law and this rule that we have today, you had to have a doctor, you had to have a GP,” said Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé. “Now, you’ll be able to be associated with an IPS [specialized nurse practitioner], and I think that’s very, very good news for Quebecers.”

At the moment, only general practitioners have access to the province’s registry of patients.

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Advocates say these new powers will give Quebecers better access to primary care.

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“Let’s remind everyone that since 1973, Ontario nurse practitioners can practice, 2003 in BC, 2004 in Alberta,” said Paul Brunet, a patients’ rights advocate.

“So we’re more or less 25 years late. But finally, we’re getting it.”

Click to play video: 'Expanded role for nurse practitioners'
Expanded role for nurse practitioners

There are currently over 630,000 Quebecers waiting for a family doctor, according to data from the health ministry.

The president of Quebec’s Order of Nurses says the new responsibility should eventually help the backlog of people on the list.

“We’ll have to see how the plan is implemented and what kind of collaboration there will be with the doctors,” said Luc Mathieu. “It should help it, but perhaps we won’t see results right away.”

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As of April 15, primary care nurse practitioners working in 11 clinics will be able to register patients.

To find out if there is a clinic near you, the government suggests checking online with your local integrated health and services centre.

The province says it plans to extend the measure to all practices, so that more than 1,000 nurse practitioners will eventually be able to take on patients.

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