Ensuring our members get the best professional practice support and access to education remains one of our highest priorities. Our bargaining committee was able to negotiate new contract language that addresses nurses' practice concerns and puts greater emphasis on professional partnerships and clinical mentoring to elevate standards of care.
The agreement acknowledges the important structural changes occurring within the health care system and the larger shift toward integrated primary and community care. Enhanced primary health care contributes to significant improvements in community health status, and nurses are central to this transformation which puts the needs of patients, clients and residents first. However, it's also important to protect and support nurses who may be affected by these primary care model changes.
Under the proposed agreement, health employers will take a coordinated approach to delivering new community-based services as part of a primary and community care model implementation plan. This will see nurses participating in learning self-assessments, a review of job descriptions and collaborative ongoing discussion.
New language also recognizes how specialized community services, not generalists, are needed for complex patients, and a comprehensive labour adjustment plan will be developed to promote safe nursing practice, increased job satisfaction and staff retention.
A new professional practice issues working group will meet within the next 60 days to review current outstanding issues and address any future concerns. Made up of three employer and three union reps, the group will develop terms of reference and education materials, and finalize administrative processes.
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION SUPPORT
Appendix JJ.3 Nursing Scope of Practice: An additional $1.4 million will be allocated to fund scope-of-practice upgrades for all nurses and support members interested in opportunities such as LPN Ortho Tech, LPN bridging, RN First Assist and RN anesthetist programs.
MOA - Primary and Community Care Model Implementation: An additional $2 million in both 2020 and 2021 will be allocated toward a new pilot project focused on primary and community-based care. This money will fund site-specific hands-on clinical mentors who will not have a patient assignment in order to provide continuous learning through elbow-to-elbow support.
Members eligible for specialty education under Article 35 will now provide 18 months of service and may be required to return or post into a regular position in the area of their specialty. In the event that a position does not exist, the employer will create one in order to help keep specialty-educated nurses in the system.
STREAMLINED PR PROCESS WILL FOCUS ON PRACTICE ISSUES
For many years now, filing a professional responsibility form (PRF) has been one of the best ways for nurses to protect their practice and promote positive changes for patients.
There is no question that staffing and workload problems can directly affect nurses’ professional practice. However, a recent annual review showed that less that 20 percent of professional responsibility forms filed actually addressed clinical practice issues that could affect a nurse’s licence. Because most issues were related to staffing and workload, the parties agreed that they would be better addressed through a separate process.
The professional responsibility process will now be refined to better address concerns directly related to the college’s nursing standards of practice, and involve professional practice staff early on. Key outcomes achieved through the PR process will continue to be built on. These include improvements to policies and procedures, increased communication and professional practice councils, improved decision making tools, staff development and clinical education and leadership support.
Staffing and workload-related issues will now be resolved using new direct patient care staffing language and through the new workload assessment process that utilizes nurses’ clinical expertise to determine staffing on units.
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