REGINA – Saskatchewan is planning to improve patient’s access to nurse practitioner services in rural communities.
Minister Randy Weeks announced on Thursday a new recruitment plan that will encourage nurse practitioners to work in communities with less than 10,000 people.
“We’re working to make sure all residents have access to quality primary health services, wherever they live in Saskatchewan,” Weekes said. “The Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner Recruitment Strategy is a great step forward in supporting both nurse practitioners and patients. It’s one more way we’re keeping our commitment to address health care needs in rural areas.”
“The Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP) is pleased to partner with the provincial government to move this initiative forward,” SANP President Lia Boxall said. “We have identified ways that nurse practitioners could be providing more accessible, quality, sustainable health care services to all people in Saskatchewan. This strategy will help us continue to remove barriers that exist at present and implement solutions that support nurse practitioners and benefit patients.”
“This initiative combined with our commitment to train more nurse practitioners will help improve patient care in Saskatchewan,” Advanced Education Minister Rob Norris said. “Since 2012, we have invested $630,000 for additional nurse practitioner seats and are on target to meet our commitment of 20 new training positions.”
The strategy has four initiatives that will be phased in over two tiers.
- “Grow Your Own” – Registered nurses will receive wages and benefits for up to two years while they receive full-time nurse practitioner training, based on a five-year return-of-service agreement in the sponsoring health region.
- Rural Nurse Practitioners Locum Pool – A team of nurse practitioners will be formed to provide itinerant services on a temporary basis in communities that are without nurse practitioner services. The program will provide relief for vacation, sick leave or maternity leave.
- Position transfers – Health regions will be able to move vacant nursing positions within health regions to communities with a demonstrated need for a nurse practitioner where no position exists.
- Relocation grants – Nurse practitioners will be eligible for incentive grants of up to $40,000 over five years for practicing in hard-to-recruit positions or locations.
It is expected that the rural and remote nurse practitioner program recruitment strategy will cost around $250,000 annually.
Currently the province has 170 nurse practitioners licensed in the province.