A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a nurse with advanced university education who works both independently and in collaboration with other health professionals to provide patients and families with quality health care services. Ontario has more than 2,000 Nurse Practitioners who work in a diverse range of community and hospital settings across the province.
We asked a few members of the NP team at our Health Sciences Centre to share thoughts about their role and experience. This week, we’re featuring Ashley Alliett.
I became a Nurse Practitioner because wanted to engage with patients and families in a more advanced and autonomous role.
I work with an amazing team of 2 RN’s and 6 NP’s. Every day I get to visit patients where they are most comfortable – in their home. Those living in retirement homes, assisted living and long-term care homes who become acutely ill – and who may have needed to be transferred to the hospital – are able to receive the care and support they need in the comfort of their homes. Having witnessed the impact long Emergency Room (ER) wait times can have on seniors and those with complex illnesses, this not only improves their quality of life, but also reduces ER visits and admissions into hospital.
A critical part of caring for seniors is ensuring minimal disruption to their routine. Our role allows for earlier diagnosis and treatment. The moment a patient feels ill or has a change in condition, an assessment can be made. We also reduce length of stay for those that are admitted to the hospital by being familiar with the residents, assisting with the care plan, coordinating appropriate supports, and follow up by our team.
There is a large volume of residents in retirement homes and assisted living facilities, many with complex care needs and chronic illnesses. I feel the population we serve is amongst the most vulnerable in our region. We treat patients with cancer, heart failure, chronic lung disease, cirrhosis, kidney failure, dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, those approaching end of life, and others. Many do not have primary care providers, or of they do, many refuse or don’t have the supports or means to leave their homes to seek treatment. Many of our patients also have cognitive or physical limitations, especially during the winter months. Although our role is not the primary care provider for this large volume of residents, trying to ensure appropriated care, management and follow up can sometimes be a challenge. Ultimately, improving quality of life is our main goal.
The therapeutic relationship that is formed with patients and families is the most rewarding part of my job. I love being a part of something that can improve outcomes, and where the actions you make can have a large and lasting impact on quality of life. To be part of someone’s life when they are most vulnerable – during an illness, when there are uncertain circumstances, when difficult decisions need to be made – it is such a privilege and an honour. I never want to take that for granted. I am also able to work side by side with the most brilliant physicians, nurses and multidisciplinary staff who truly go above and beyond.
Go for it! It is such a rewarding career!!