Quebec’s College of Physicians is taking a step back and says the province’s nurse practitioners should create their own guidelines and regulations.
The college says Quebec’s Medical Act is not an appropriate vehicle to do so.
“We are at the point where the Quebec Order of Nurses can fully assume the responsibility of regulating nurse practitioners’ role without the obligatory approval of Quebec’s College of Physicians. We offer our entire collaboration,” said Dr. Mauril Gaudreault, president of the College of Physicians of Quebec.
The Quebec Order of Nurses says this “unprecedented openness” will allow the union to widen the scope of services to Quebecers.
“We will deploy all necessary resources to ensure we provide secure services,” said Luc Mathieu, president of the Quebec Order of Nurses, in a statement.
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In February, the College of Physicians adopted a resolution that would give nurse practitioners the power to treat common illnesses such as otitis, urinary tract infections and the following chronic diseases: diabetes, hypertension, asthma, hypothyroidism, high cholesterol and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The decision comes after Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann announced she wanted to give more autonomy to Quebec’s nearly 550 nurse practitioners. McCann said the goal is to make it easier for Quebecers to have access to health care. The move, she says, will provide more access to people because physicians and nurses will no longer duplicate their efforts.
Christine Laliberté of the Association of Specialized Nurse Practitioners says since “super nurses” are already trained to treat many common and some chronic illnesses, it’s only logical to let them do that independently.
“I was in an obligation to ask the doctor to see the patient anyway, to confirm, so doubling up? Yes,” Laliberté said. “This means the doctor won’t have to see this patient anymore so while I’m seeing the patient and I’m doing everything for him, he sees another one, a more complex one. Maybe he’ll be able to see more patients.”
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McCann says the College of Physicians’ decision is a “historic” move towards better access to health care.
“The population is expecting more services; they’re waiting. Everybody is working for the good of the population of Quebec,” McCann said.
However, opposition party Québec Solidaire says Quebecers shouldn’t celebrate just yet.
“For this measure to be really effective, there are a lot of details that yet are not clear, that have to be clarified in the bill in the autumn,” said Sol Zanetti, Quebec Solidaire’s health critic.
–With files from Global’s Raquel Fletcher