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Dr. Joan Almost highlights gaps in Canadian health care in new report

Dr. Joan Almost highlights gaps in Canadian health care in new report

Dr. Joan Almost, Associate Professor in the School of Nursing, has written a report with the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) on the current landscape of regulated nursing in Canada. The report, which is titled Regulated Nursing in Canada: The Landscape in 2021, was released in February 2021.

The aim of the report is to describe the current state of nursing in Canada to provide clarity and a fulsome understanding of all regulated nurses in Canada. The call for this increased understanding started in 2018, after the historic decision to open CNA membership beyond registered nurses and nurse practitioners to include licensed and registered practical nurses and registered psychiatric nurses. In the Spring 2018, Dr. Almost approached their leadership wanting to contribute to professional nursing and policy work during her then forthcoming sabbatical. CNA trusted her with this important project and her recent report is the culmination of over two years of work in her role as the Scholar in Residence with CNA.

In the report Dr. Almost highlights how the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed several serious gaps across our health care system. She states that in order to fill these gaps, nursing must be reconceptualized, as health-care systems across the country strive to determine how Canada’s 440,000 nurses, of every type, can most effectively be deployed.

Rigidly segregated education, jealously guarded delineation of scopes of practice, and a lack of understanding of each other’s roles are all listed in the report as areas of concerns. However, one major issue that Dr. Almost highlights as hindering the capacity of nurses in Canada, is the traditional divisions which she identifies throughout nursing education, organizations and scope of practice.

“The best-educated generation of nurses in history is locked in roles and functions defined decades ago that underuse the intellectual capital of the entire nursing workforce,” states Dr. Almost in the Regulated Nursing in Canada report. “To be effective in 21st century health care, it may be that a more intraprofessional approach that overcomes the restrictions of our traditional hierarchy will ensure better care for patients and a better functioning health care system overall.”

Dr. Almost believes that to meet the complex health policy challenges lying ahead, nurses and policy decision-makers must work together to determine the ideal conditions required for optimizing scope, productivity, safety, and satisfaction in nursing practice. “By exploring the structures and practices surrounding health care in Canada,” says Dr. Almost, “we can ensure we are no longer limiting the ability of health care providers to give the quality of care that patients deserve.”

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