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An Important Day For The Nursing Profession
Date Posted: 01/Sep/2017
Nurses who become authorized under the Regulated Health Professions Act will be able to order tests and prescribe certain medications without having to consult with a physician.
Eight years after the Manitoba government first passed legislation to make regulations for health-care workers more consistent, the College of Registered Nurses is finally ready to be brought under them.
Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced Thursday that as of May 31, 2018, registered nurses will be governed by the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) instead of the Registered Nurses Act. That means Manitoba will get a new nursing designation with an expanded scope of practice.
"It is an important day for the nursing profession," Goertzen told reporters. "It is important that they continue to be able to set standards appropriately and that our registered nurses... will be able to work to the full scope of their ability."
Under RHPA, Manitoba will introduce a new position: Registered Nurse Authorized Prescriber. Under new act, some nurses will be allowed to prescribe drugs, order tests
Nurses who become authorized prescribers will be able to do more — order diagnostic tests, prescribe certain medications — without having to consult with a physician or other health-care provider.
In Manitoba, nurses interested in this job will need to take a distance program offered by Red River College. There they’ll need to pick a stream — either travel health or reproductive health and sexually transmissible and blood-borne infections. The curriculum was approved by the college earlier this year and courses begin next week.
"This has been a long journey," said Marie Edwards, president of the College of Registered Nurses.
The college is only the second of 21 colleges to come under RHPA, which passed in 2009.
The act is designed to more carefully control certain health procedures that could put the public at risk, such as prescribing, diagnosing, dispensing and administering drugs, and ordering some diagnostic tests. But bringing colleges under RHPA is a fairly involved legal process that includes regulations specific to each college, broad public consultations on those regulations and, ultimately, cabinet approval.
For nurses in particular, coming under RHPA required approving two new regulations. One concerns the rules around how the college is to be governed, while the other has to do with the nursing scope of practice. A formal record of cabinet’s decision is expected next week.
"It allows for clarity and accountability," Edwards said. "The regulations enable us to optimize our scope of practice and they also provide the public with consistency."
Indeed, Goertzen acknowledged that it will likely take quite a bit of time before all the colleges come under the act.
There are several more colleges in the queue, he said, and "the queue isn’t fast."
Work is underway to bring the College of Licensed Practical Nurses, the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses and the College of Physicians and Surgeons under RHPA. After which, he said, attention will turn to the government’s commitment to paramedics that they can become a self-regulated profession.
After that, the remainder of colleges will follow. Most are significantly smaller than the College of Registered Nurses.
"We’re dedicating the resources that we have," Goertzen said in response to questions about the long timeline for implementation. "You might know there are a lot of things going on in health these days."
In 2014, the Progressive Conservatives criticized the NDP government for the lengthy process and the then-executive director of the Manitoba Chiropractors Association attributed the delays to inadequate Manitoba Health staffing to help with the transition.
By Jane Gerster, Source: winnipegfreepress

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