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A little more money for nurses

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The Faculty of Nursing's Nurse Practitioner program at the University of Calgary, will receive approximately $255,000 this year from a $15 million federal health reform fund. This money will help the program create a new primary health care component and provide seats for more students.

Initially, the Nurse Practitioner program was supposed to close this year due to low funding. However, it will now be able to enroll 15 new students every year. In the past, the students only focused on acute care, however with the new funding, a primary health care component will be added, allowing students to study either focus.

"We will get $255,000 this year, and $370,000 every year after, very wonderful news," said Karen Cook, Faculty of Nursing Public Relations Coordinator.

The Nurse Practitioner program was allocated the money because it fit within the recommendations from Romanow report. The report recommended health care workers work more in teams located not only in the community clinics but also at the hospital.

"The program is very interdisciplinary in terms of its relationship with the Calgary Health Region and with the Faculty of Medicine," said Acting Dean of Nursing Dr. Marlene Reimer. "A lot of Canadian nurse practitioner programs do not work as closely with medicine as our program does."

The program will create nurse practitioners with enhanced skills, such as diagnosis and treatment abilities, and some prescriptive authority in their practice. These nurses are vital and very important in the quality of the health care system. They will work autonomously while collaborating with other health care professionals such as physicians and pharmacists.

The two-year program was initially created in 2001 as a pilot program. It currently has 15 graduates, all of whom currently focus solely on acute care. Future graduate nursing students will expect to see more primary health care.

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