Accessible Care: Implementing an RNSP

One of the most challenging times of my entire career was working on the front lines throughout the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. I know many of my colleagues can relate to the strain the pandemic had on resources, their teams, their mental health, and the public they served. We felt a global grip on our call to care—to provide registered nursing care to the people who have entrusted us with their health. So, when a vaccine was finally announced, I felt a huge sense of relief.

At the time, I was working in a remote location in Northern Saskatchewan, and when the announcement came, our entire medical team came together to create a plan to ensure that all community members who needed and wanted a vaccine would be able to do so in a quick and efficient manner. Traditionally, a lengthy examination has been required to provide RNs with the knowledge required to administer general vaccines. Although our health care team had RNs who met the competencies for administering other vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine was new and unfamiliar which meant that additional knowledge was required to administer it. Based on the review of the available evidence, our urgent response included the implementation of a Registered Nurse Specialty Practice (RNSP) protocol, which created the opportunity for efficient and effective allocation of vaccines to the people who needed it most.

The exciting thing is that not only do RNSPs directly impact those who receive the care, but I’ve experienced that RNs are also eager to be involved! Since implementing this RNSP with my colleagues, I’ve had more conversations with other RNs about the needs that exist, the potential for future RNSPs and identifying areas of practice that could use an RNSP.

There is an opportunity for all care providers to better understand that it is not only the northern parts of Saskatchewan where scope of practice can be optimized in the public interest through specialty practices, RNSPs can be used and implemented across all areas of practice to meet the needs of people in every corner of the province. Seeing these gaps in practice and actively thinking of how RNSPs can bridge them is a step in the right direction!


*Story adapted from the Rena Sutherland, NP, interview in the 2021 edition of The Pulse

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