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SARM calling for more nurse practitioners in rural areas

Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities call for immediate action, reinstatement of Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner program.
SARM is calling for more nurse practitioners to address the shortages of health care staff.

REGINA -The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities is calling for nurse practitioners to be utilized to address the shortage of health care workers in rural Saskatchewan.

In a news release SARM called on the government to utilize the province’s qualified Nurse Practitioners and to reinstate the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program.

They cited in their news release the issues rural communities faced in providing consistent nursing services and emergency room care, pointing to the “crisis” in health care and staff shortages throughout rural areas. 

“We need to see our government make some changes to make it easier for our Nurse Practitioners who live here in Saskatchewan to work where they live. Instead of recruiting, we must grow our own, right here at home,” said Ray Orb, President of SARM, in a statement. “We need more positions for our currently licensed Nurse Practitioners, who are underutilized, and we must reinstate the 2014 Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner Recruitment Strategy. The government needs to consider incentives for Nurse Practitioners in the form of contributions towards relocation expenses and potential bonuses for hard-to-fill positions.”

According to SARM’s news release, Saskatchewan is underutilizing trained NPs. As of April 2023, there were 328 NPs, and of those 10 percent are unemployed and continue to work as registered nurses.

“Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP) believes we need to reinstate the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner Program that was announced by the government in 2014. At this time, it is crucial that we employ or fully utilize all NPs, or we will lose this valuable group of professionals to other provinces like Alberta where the job opportunities and wages for NPs are much more attractive. Unfortunately, we still have more than 30 underutilized or unemployed NPs in this province. 30 NPs could immediately provide care to approximately 36,000 patients. That is equal to the population of communities such as Moose Jaw, Lloydminster, or Prince Albert,” said Johanne Rust, Nurse Practitioner and President of SANP, in a statement.

SARM says it will raise the issue during the bear pit session at their annual convention on March 14.

In response, the opposition New Democrats sent out a news release pointing to SARM's references to a "crisis" in health care, and threw their support behind the Grow Your Own strategy.

“Healthcare workers who grew up here are most likely to stay here. A Grow Your Own strategy is just common sense,” said Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck in a statement. “This Premier has taken rural Saskatchewan for granted and I think a lot of people are ready for a change.”