The province announced Tuesday it is expanding a program to fund salaries of six registered nurses while they attend Dalhousie University’s two-year Master of Nursing nurse practitioner program full-time. The goal of the incentive is to improve Nova Scotia’s access to primary care, the province said in a news release.
Supporting more registered nurses to become nurse practitioners will fill a growing workforce need and improve Nova Scotians’ access to primary care,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey in the release. In return, recipients of the incentive will commit to working in one of Nova Scotia’s designated communities for five years.“There are registered nurses who took part in the first round of this incentive program who are now nurse practitioners working in smaller, underserved communities,” Delorey said in the release.
This program was initially launched in 2018, with 10 registered nurses participating. The release says three nurses have already graduated and are currently working as nurse practitioners in Digby, Cumberland County and Victoria County.
“Four more will graduate this fall and will practice in Shelburne, Cape Breton County, Inverness and Pictou, and the final three will graduate next May and will practice in Cumberland County, Digby and Sheet Harbour,” the release read.
In the upcoming round of the incentive, the province will invest $900,000 over two years. The province said an expression of interest will be sent to those already accepted to Dalhousie’s nurse practitioner program.
The recipients will be chosen based on affiliation with the communities and willingness to relocate, the release says. Eligible locations include Inverness, Caledonia, Truro, Shelburne, Pugwash and Guysborough or Canso, including a 60-kilometre radius.
It also says an arrangement between Dalhousie and Cape Breton University can allow students in Cape Breton to complete some program requirements locally. “Today’s announcement is great news, especially for rural Nova Scotia,” said Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, in the release.
“It’s also in line with our 2019 Nursing Potential report which recommended government continue to invest in nurses so that underserviced areas receive the care they deserve,” she said. The province said this initiative plays a role in ensuring Nova Scotia has the “right number, mix and distribution of nurses now and in the future.”
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