President's Message: Looking Forward, by Zak Matieschyn, BSN, MN, RN, NP(Family)

I am honoured to write my first President’s Message to the registered nurses and nurse practitioners of British Columbia who have entrusted me to lead the Association over the next two years. I look forward to the challenge ahead with excitement at the potential that exists for the Association and nursing to make transformative changes in the healthcare system, the nursing profession and the lives of individual RNs and NPs. The nurses of British Columbia have elected a diverse and strong group of directors who will lead our board and I am thrilled to work with them as we serve the nursing profession over the coming months.

I grew up in British Columbia and have been an RN in this province since 2000, working in a variety of settings including med/surg, ICU and emergency nursing in Victoria, Vancouver, and the Kootenays. For the past six years I have worked as an NP at a primary healthcare practice in Castlegar and I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to work directly with patients at every stage of their lives and provide for their primary healthcare needs.

Although my interests are diverse, a particular passion of mine is around the social determinants of health (e.g. housing, income, education, etc). This is an area that nursing has been aware of for decades, because we know that health is so much more than the absence of disease or making good lifestyle choices. Nursing needs to be at the forefront in offering an evidence-informed opinion when it comes to developing the health and social policy that will address the social determinants. And while governmental policy that seeks to improve these health determinants should be applauded, policy that worsens the health of British Columbians by negatively affecting these factors must be constructively critiqued. I look forward to applying my passion in this area to help strengthen the nursing response in addressing social determinants that impact our families and communities.

This is an important time for nursing, and for healthcare in British Columbia. Through the policy papers issued in March of this year, the provincial government and the Ministry of Health have signaled that the next few years will bring transformative change to our healthcare system – with a focus on patient-centred, team-based care and a move to revitalize primary and community care. These are areas in which nursing and nurses have extensive knowledge and expertise. The success of this transformative policy change is greatly dependent on the involvement of nursing throughout the process. I am pleased to say that the ARNBC is specifically named in these policy papers as a consultant and contributor to this process. I encourage any RN/NP interested in being involved in this exciting work to share your thoughts with us so we can bring your voice forward to government.

Join me in strengthening the nursing profession and nursing community. There are a multitude of opportunities to be engaged with your Association, your College and your Union. Let’s demonstrate the incredible knowledge and strength that this amazing profession brings to healthcare transformation. Together we can build positive, lasting change.


Zak's interest in health and healing began at the early age of nine years old when he would carry a small first aid kit while playing with friends.  Since then, his passion for healthcare and health policy has been unwavering.  He was particularly inspired by concepts of family, community and societal health, as well as the social determinants of health during his undergraduate (BSN UVic, 2000), graduate work (MN UVic, 2008), and clinical experience in urban, rural and remote B.C. communities.

Zak has served on numerous boards and committees, including the BC Nurse Practitioner Association Executive and was the first Nurse Practitioner in B.C. to be invited to sit on a Division of Family Practice Board (Kootenay Boundary, 2010 - 2014).  Through this work he has gained valuable experience in member engagement, optimizing board governance, and relationship building among diverse stakeholders.  In his clinical practice, Zak has worked med/surg, emergency, intensive care, vascular access and outpost nursing.  After obtaining his NP education in 2008, he began a practice in a West Kootenay family clinic, providing primary healthcare to the general public with a focus on marginalized populations.

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Rob Calnan

Congratulations on your Presidency and best wishes for a successful 2 years. Know that if there is anything that I can do to help or assist you or ARNBC just ask!

Julie Ambrosio

Thank you for your leadership and commitment Zak. As you have outlined, there is much opportunity for the nursing profession ahead.

Rob Rowlandson

Congratulations Zak. I am very happy to see you in this leadership role with ARNBC. I look forward with great interest as our organization further grows, develops, and advocates for positive change under your care and direction.

Sally Thorne

So appreciative that you are bringing your experience, passion and confidence in the future to this important position on behalf of the nursing profession of BC, Zak. There are so many health and public policy conversations in which a nursing angle of vision can and should make a distinctive and highly relevant contribution, including those on social determinants of health as well as all aspects of health system delivery. A nursing perspective is fundamentally and powerfully shaped by the profession's commitment to advocacy on behalf of for patients, ensuring that even the smallest voice gets heard and that the vision of equitable health for all remains what drives us. Congratulations on your election, and know that you have the nurses of BC solidly behind you!

Maryanne Smith

Dear Mr. Matieschyn,
Congratulations on your new position. I met you briefly 2 yrs ago at a Division of Family Medicine brainstorming session up in Powell River. That evening we looked at ways to integrate NPs into their community practice.
I am writing now to say that NPs in this province need to be recognized on par by the Ministry of Health for their services. NPs looking to start a private practice must be granted the ability to bill the MSP for services rendered like midwives do.
I believe the time is right to lobby our government and I am willing to work with ARNBC to make headway on this matter. Our inability to bill MSP means that clients must pay out of pocket, to access our services and financial burden can be a major determinant of Health.
Maryanne Smith NP

Hannah Varto

I agree with MaryAnne that it is time that we seek different ways to integrate NPs into our health care system beyond the health authority employment model. However, I caution a fee-for-service model which does not support qualitative outcomes and rather supports walk-in clinic turn-style health care based on time and numbers and not on quality care. The difference that NPs bring to the table is an understanding of the time it takes to build relationships with patients to best support their health choices.

I believe there are a number of other ways to ensure fair payment and recognition of NPs (and physicians) other than "billing MSP" which allow NPs to manage their own collaborative practice environments. Let's explore what these might look like.

Denise Tarlier

Zak, thank-you for taking up this challenge! Under your capable leadership, I look forward to seeing the ARNBC continue to grow in influence as a voice for health equity and nursing in BC..

Nora Whyte

Congratulations, Zak, as you take on your new role with optimism, intelligence and passion for the profession! Thank you for your inaugural President's Message describing your background and your commitment to change including action on the social determinants of health and health policy transformation.
Best wishes to you and the new ARNBC Board of Directors as you lead the vital work of the Association during the next two years.