It is almost two and a half years since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency. It's difficult for me to remember what life was like before this, to be honest. We are, of course, much better equipped than we were in March 2020; we have effective vaccines, treatments, and a much deeper understanding of this disease. But we certainly aren't out of the woods.
The pandemic has demanded a lot of the nurses and midwives we regulate, who have been called upon to deliver care under extraordinary circumstances. I have heard from health care professionals who are frustrated that the world seems to be moving on from COVID-19, dispensing with precautions and returning to 'normal' life, without recognizing that the crisis continues. We are still seeing high rates of infection, hospitalizations, and deaths from this pandemic.
You and your health practitioner colleagues are being significantly impacted by the shortage of health human resources in the system, meaning you are strained and stretched almost to the brink, all while coping with the stress of the pandemic on your own lives. We are also still hearing from nurses and midwives who are finding it difficult to provide the optimal care they are used to providing due to circumstances outside of their control. As I shared in my message last fall, the standard of care expected of nurses and midwives is always considered in context.
We are also still dealing with our other public health emergency—the overdose crisis. I know this is adding strain and emotional distress for many.
I want to assure you that we are working within our regulatory mandate to be part of the solution. We participated last fall in a webinar supporting nurses working with limited resources. We are focussing our efforts to support increasing the number of qualified nurses and midwives entering B.C.'s healthcare system safely and efficiently. We are paying particular attention to further streamlining the registration process for internationally educated nurses, so they can enter the workforce more quickly in a role that aligns with their current skills and abilities. It's a complex process but we are committed to this work.
We are also working to expand opioid agonist prescribing for RNs and RPNs and prescribing for safe supply for NPs. In July, I joined the registrars from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC and the College of Pharmacists of BC in a presentation on our response to the overdose crisis to the Select Standing Committee on Health, where we spoke of our collaborative efforts and provided recommendations. BCCNM is also actively participating in provincial-level committees to assist those leading and implementing strategies to address the overdose and drug toxicity crisis to understand applicable nursing standards and scopes of practice.
I know there is still much work to be done and we are committed to doing it. On behalf of the college board, staff and myself—and the public we serve— thank you for all you are doing to provide patients, clients, and their families with exceptional nursing and midwifery care. I have such admiration and respect for the work you do and the resilience you have shown.
Please feel free to email me if you have thoughts or concerns. I welcome your feedback.
Cynthia Johansen BCCNM Registrar & CEO email@example.com
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