National Nurse Practitioner Week November 2021

October 2021

PMH Primary Care Services Benefit From Nurse Practitioners Expertise

Enhancing access to primary care within Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) is a goal that is always top of mind in ongoing health planning.   One way the health region has successfully moved forward with enhancing services involves building up a strong Nurse Practitioner complement.  Nurse Practitioners continue to make valuable contributions meeting the primary care needs of our residents.  As part of Nurse Practitioner Week, nationally recognized this year from November 14-20, it provides another opportunity to educate the general public about the important roles Nurse Practitioners can perform and how the communities benefit from their expertise to further improve access to services as close to home as possible.

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are Registered Nurses who have taken additional education and training at the Masters level.  They have undergone a minimum of six years of formal education and have a wealth of experience to draw from.  Much of what is offered falls under the ‘health equity’ lens, whether it be within some physician clinics in more rural, remote areas, or with services provided on the mobile clinic (primary care bus) that travel to some Indigenous communities. NPs provide a holistic approach to care and take time to become familiar with their clients’ needs and health care goals.

Within PMH, 21 dedicated Nurse Practitioners are presently working across the region. Within the last six months, three new NPs have been recruited.  Welcome to Shawntel Zalluski, Berly Balsar-Lawrence and Ashley Mitchell.  All three are connected to the 7th Street Health Access Centre in Brandon, but base site coverage in Shoal Lake is currently covered by Ashley Mitchell who is filling in for a term vacancy at that community.

“Often we are meeting clients in areas where they are at, or close to where they are at and it affords some additional time to look at a whole host of things.  That can range from treatment options, family circumstances, reviewing best coverage/cost effective possibilities that exist for prescriptions and what other aspects of an individual’s health care journey might be preventing them to improving upon their overall health and wellness”, stated Diane Ciprick, PMH Manager of Primary Health Care.

PMH is always educating the general public about the services NPs can provide. Ciprick says they can assess and order any required diagnostic tests, interpret the results of the tests, and develop a treatment plan including ordering any medications or treatments.  If their assessment indicates that the client would benefit from a referral they can complete the referral to allied health professionals (e.g. Physiotherapy).  Referrals can also be made to specialists like Obstetricians or to other service providers (e.g. Addictions Foundation of Manitoba).

Clients can also see NPs for a variety of health concerns like general aliments (sore throat, earache), to chronic disease management for diseases like diabetes.  NPs can help to address mental health issues and can collaborate with specialists or mental health workers to ensure clients’ needs are being met.  NPs pride themselves in providing not only care for existing conditions but also working with clients to promote health through regular screening and education. 

Of course, COVID-19 has caused some adjustments in the provision of overall care. NPs have remained focused on providing primary care to clients throughout the COVID pandemic in innovative ways such as virtual care via telephone or video-conferencing when necessary.

PMH is fortunate to have a wealth of expertise to help address the primary care needs of our population.

Listing of NP locations and appointment information can be found here.

-Submitted by PMH Nurse Practitioner Team

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Photo of Ashley Mitchell, courtesty of Crossroads This Week