Nurse Practitioners - An Underutilized Resource

Danny Guo, Kevin Zuo


The nurse practitioner (NP) is a relatively new care provider in the Canadian health care system. NPs are registered nurses (RNs) with years of clinical experience and additional education who conduct advanced health assessments, diagnose, order and interpret lab tests, prescribe drugs, perform advanced interventions, monitor client outcomes, and make referrals to physicians and other health care providers. Although the positive impact of NPs in improving patient access to timely and quality care has been widely demonstrated, they continue to be grossly underutilized. While upstream factors, including lack of significant financial incentive and patient recognition, discourage RNs from pursuing NP licensure, downstream factors, such as physician resistance and impede expansion of existing NP programs.

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