A recently launched initiative aims to empower nurse practitioners to independently enhance access to primary care clinics for Albertans.

According to the government of Alberta, every Albertan should be able to access primary care when and where they need it. To help achieve this goal, the government is expanding opportunities for nurse practitioners.

Under the Nurse Practitioner Primary Care Program, nurse practitioners will be eligible to receive approximately 80 per cent of the compensation allocated to family physicians delivering comprehensive primary care.

Compensation will be calculated according to panel size (the number of patients attended by a nurse practitioner) and the hours devoted to patient care. This initiative empowers nurse practitioners to independently provide comprehensive patient care, either by establishing their own practices or by operating autonomously within existing primary care clinics.

“Nurse practitioners are a welcome and integral part of the solution to improving access to primary health care services. Finalizing this funding model is an exciting step forward in our journey to refocus health care in Alberta, and I’m looking forward to this expansion of health care services,” stated Danielle Smith, Premier of Alberta.

Nurse practitioners must fulfill several requirements in order to be eligible for reimbursement under the $15 million program. These include pledging to provide primary care services that are medically necessary, having a patient panel of at least 900, offering after-hours access on weekends, evenings, or holidays, and taking walk-in appointments while they work toward reaching 900 patients.

The nurse practitioner program is designed to encourage stronger patient attachment by linking compensation for nurse practitioners to the growth of their patient panels. This approach, complemented by incentives like the Panel Management Support Program, aims to assist over 700,000 Albertans who currently lack attachment to a primary healthcare provider.

“This program is exciting news for Albertans. It not only increases health care capacity in communities across the province but also provides more Albertans with access to a regular primary care provider and will help take pressure off the rest of the health system," stated Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Health. "Supporting nurse practitioners to do more of the work they are trained to do is another tool we’re using to stabilize and strengthen primary health care throughout Alberta.”

By submitting an application for one-time mentorship funding, clinics, communities, and Primary Care Networks can collaborate with nurse practitioners who are just starting their careers. For the first eighteen months of a nurse practitioner's career, each mentor is entitled to receive $10,000 in order to facilitate a smooth transition to independent practice.

The Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta will support nurse practitioners as they plan to work independently in an established practice or open their own clinics by recruiting nurse practitioners to participate in the program and assisting them with the application process through a $2 million grant over the next three years.

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