Nurses Week is celebrated annually during the week of Florence Nightingale’s May 12th birthday. It is an opportunity for nurses, their employers and the public to recognize the contributions to the wellbeing of all New Brunswickers. This year, Nurses Week runs from May 8-14th.
The #YESThisIsNursing theme was chosen to highlight the many non-traditional roles that registered nurses (RNs) fill. The traditional role of a nurse has expanded and evolved over time. Still, when most people think of nurses, they picture us working in hospitals. In reality, the roles, settings, and sectors we work in extend far beyond the walls of a hospital.
Registered nurses work as supervisors, managers, administrators, flight nurses, nurse practitioners, correctional nurses, in Extra Mural, public and mental health and nursing homes to name a few. RNs also lobby for a publically funded and publically delivered healthcare system. Some RNs also travel to offer their skills and expertise to people in war-torn, disaster struck or developing countries.
The New Brunswick Nurses Union (NBNU) represents approximately 6900 RNs. The variety of unique or unexpected roles we occupy in our work represent essential aspects of the healthcare system. As professionals with the knowledge, skills, critical thinking and education to understand how reforms can best impact health outcomes, RNs are uniquely qualified to take a collaborative leadership role in helping design and implement changes in New Brunswick’s healthcare system.
Registered nurses follow standards of practice based on evidence‐based knowledge, skill and judgement in order to contribute to and promote measures that optimize positive patient health outcomes at the individual and organizational level. As advocates for safe patient care, we have a responsibility to uphold the public’s trust.
NBNU has been advocating in many key areas where improved alternatives are known and have been proven in other jurisdictions: progress in both preventative primary care of all citizens, long-term care for seniors as well as working towards safer workplaces in NB to name a few.
RNs working in nursing homes not only provide direct care to residents, but we often fill leadership and administrative roles in these facilities. From these positions we can see both the larger systemic factors impacting this sector as well as the frontline issues involved in meeting the daily needs of seniors in care. We understand the need for more nursing home spaces with the capacity to deliver higher levels of care to residents with increasingly complex needs.
We also recognize seniors should be able to receive care and support in their own homes. NBNU supports the establishment of a delivery program for a full range of home care services for long-term care. As services to seniors expand into the community, the role of the RN will be a necessary component of the services made available to seniors living independently.
Seniors are not the only New Brunswickers who benefit from receiving healthcare services in their homes and communities. The New Brunswick Extra Mural Program (EMP) is a North American leader in the provision of acute care to patients in their own homes and is a model that could be expanded. EMP has been shown to successfully reduce costs and improve recovery. It is an aspect of our healthcare system that registered nurses are extremely proud of.
NBNU believes that EMP has the potential to be an important part in the improvement of primary healthcare delivery in the province.We are concerned about government’s intention to hand over its management to a private agency. We see this move as a step onto the slippery slope of privatization in healthcare, which shifts the focus from positive health outcomes to bottom lines and profit margins.
NBNU continues to recommend government strengthen our primary healthcare sector to better address the needs of our aging population and the increasing number of people who suffer from chronic disease.
By working in community-based clinics, under the primary healthcare model, RNs, NPs and other health professionals are able to provide better coordinated, cost effective care that focuses on wellness, prevention and patient education. If we want to improve the overall health of New Brunswickers and ensure our system remains sustainable for future generations, government needs to invest in primary healthcare for its citizens.
As changes are explored and implemented throughout our healthcare system, nurses will continue to collaborate through all our various roles to be advocates for the best healthcare for all New Brunswickers.