Taking a Stand for Better Primary Care, by Susan Duncan RN PhD

The ARNBC has joined with the British Columbia Nurse Practitioner Association (BCNPA) and the Licensed Practical Nurses Association of B.C. (LPNABC), to convey concerns about recently announced changes to primary care in British Columbia.

Nurses have expressed their frustration that government is moving ahead with plans to ‘solve the physician shortage’ without considering the numerous ways nurses and other health professionals can, and do, improve primary care. We know that nurses are confronted on a daily basis with patients’ unmet needs and are frustrated because they know better solutions are possible. Our three Nursing Associations are committed to finding collaborative ways to bring nurses’ voices and ideas to this critical policy issue.

We have recently conveyed our concerns and our proposed solutions in an op-ed published in the Vancouver Sun, a news release and a letter to the Minister of Health.  In formulating our position and proposed solutions, ARNBC takes direction from evidence-informed policies, some of which were recognized decades ago. These include the Hastings Report on the Community Health Centre Project, the Romanow Report and the most recent Expert Commission on Nursing and Health Care. We also look to emerging models, such as the inception of family care clinics in Alberta, as a way of opening up choices in primary care providers through collaborative, interprofessional, patient-centred, community based clinics with increased hours of access. Other provinces and territories have also shown demonstrable impact on population health through implementing interdisciplinary community health centres.

ARNBC, BCNPA and LPNABC have asked government to strike an interprofessional advisory committee of nurses, physicians and other health professionals to advise the Minister on what is needed to shift the focus of care from physician office services to models of care that are in sync with real patient needs.

In late March, ARNBC will launch a dedicated Elections webpage which will share our position on primary care and other key election issues, and provide nurses with tools and ideas for communicating these issues to candidates. Our hope is that all MLAs will head to Victoria with a solid understanding of the issues facing primary health care, and a resolve to make positive, lasting health policy decisions for all British Columbians.

In the meantime, please add to this blog post with your experiences and ideas -- we need to hear from you!


Dr. Susan Duncan is a faculty member at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops. She has over 30 years of experience in nursing practice, education and leadership roles. Susan has represented nursing on regional health and hospital boards and completed a term on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing in 2011.

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