In Nova Scotia, there is a provincial Improving Access to Care: RN Prescribing Committee who is leading the exploration of improved access to health care services for Nova Scotians by enabling RNs with specialized education and skills to prescribe medications within their specific area of expertise, practice setting and client population.
We sit on the committee, alongside representatives from the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), IWK Health Centre, Department of Health & Wellness, continuing care/long term care and Dalhousie University. This work began in 2017 and continues to move forward with a vision to enable RN prescribers to work within the Nova Scotia health care system in the future.
Why is RN Prescribing a Trending Topic?
The roles and responsibilities of Canadian health care professionals are always evolving to meet the needs of clients. Several provinces /territories across Canada have implemented or are considering implementing some level of RN prescribing to help improve access to health services.
In some provinces/territories, RNs with specialized education and skills working within a team of health professionals prescribe medications to a defined population. This has been shown to provide safe and effective care, including improved access to care.
What is an RN Prescriber?
The RN prescriber is a nurse with an expanded scope of practice that enables them to prescribe medications and devices and order relevant screening or diagnostic tests within their specific area of prescribing competence and practice. RN prescribers have competed additional education and met additional registration requirements.
How are RN Prescribers Different from Nurse Practitioners?
The role of an RN Prescriber would not replace or duplicate services currently provided nurse practitioners, but rather would complement these services and would allow for health care providers to most appropriately treat the needs of patients.
Upholding Public Safety
Our role is to make sure that Nova Scotians receive safe care from nurses. Our role on the committee and as part of this work overall has been to develop a regulatory framework to ensure only those with who have the knowledge, skill and advanced education are able to register and practise as an RN prescriber.
With the introduction of the RN prescriber role in Nova Scotia, we have developed a framework to ensure RN prescribers understand what is expected of them and are prepared to provide safe, ethical care to patients in Nova Scotia. Click here to learn more about our regulatory framework and how it has been developed to keep you safe.
What’s on the Horizon?
While other provinces/territories have incorporated RN prescribers into the health system, our goal is to learn from those experiences and help to implement what we think is the best model in Nova Scotia. As a result, this next phase of the project will be to design the future of RN prescribing in our province and to determine how RN prescribers can best meet the needs of Nova Scotians.
Based on national and international evidence and best practices, we will determine the most appropriate system and regulatory structures, level of RN prescribing education and competence, and clinical practice requirements to ensure safe and effective care. This work may take until late 2019 and we will keep you informed along the way.
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