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It's NP Week!! Words of Hope with NPAC

Hello and welcome to Ubiquitous Evolution. I'm Roberta here with me today are two NPs and leadership with the Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada. Dr. Stan Marchuck, is the President of NPAC and Dr. Laura Housden is the NP Council Director. They're here today to talk to us about NPAC, as well as Nurse Practitioner Week. Welcome Stan and Laura, would you begin by telling us a bit about yourself. And I guess we'll start with Stan.

Thank you, Roberta thank you for the warm welcome. So yes, I'm Stan Marchuk, practicing nurse practitioner in the area of oncology, and currently the President of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada. Also adjunct faculty at universities here in British Columbia where I reside. So thank you for this opportunity.

You're welcome. And also, you have been an Editor of the Nurse Practitioner Open Journal, which I have to put a plug in for as well.

We thank you for that. As Roberta is the inaugural editor and developer of that journal It's been an amazing opportunity to contribute to NP literature in our country and globally for that matter so this has been a great honor and privilege as well.

Well I'm so happy to have you on that board on the Editorial Board but let's keep with our focus here So Laura would you tell us a bit about yourself.

Hi yeah thanks so much for having me, and having us to talk about NP week. My name is Laura Housden, I am a Family Practice Nurse Practitioner working in British Columbia.

I completed both my nurse practitioner education, and my PhD at the University of British Columbia, and I currently work in a leadership role in the health sector but also in family practice in Indigenous health. And I'm also adjunct faculty at the University of British Columbia as well.

I'm always amazed and it's true that if you want anything done give it to a busy person. You are two very busy people but thank you so much for joining me today, because it's such an important thing to talk aboutm first of all our national organization. So can we talk a little bit about NPAC and can you tell us the audience a bit more about the organization, its mission and vision, but mostly why it's important for NPs to have a national voice.

So certainly. The Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada is Canada's national nurse practitioner body, representing the interests of nurse practitioners across our nation of provinces and territories. As an organization we bring our provincial and territorial partners, NP Associations, together to talk about health and policy issues, but also aspects around how we support each other in our professional development, education and research aspects as well.

So the organization is very much that of a grassroots group and I know, Roberta, you have been past president of the organization and leading us in that as well, has taken us into some new areas and aspects as we face challenges with our current health service delivery in Canada. More pointedly than now that NPs come together and work together to solve some of these

these I would say wicked problems that we have in our in our health system.

I really appreciate that you spoke about not only the vision from a national perspective but bringing together the different organizations, NP organizations from across the country.

Because one thing I do recall, and is that even though there are differences, a little bit in our education and how we are regulated, ultimately, it really is amazing, the similarities and not only in our visions for what we want the NP, to be able to do and how we practice, but also some of the, the issues and the problems that arise. They seem to be fairly similar across the country so having a way to support each other is really important.

Exactly. I think Laura can speak to this as like, , the NP Council Director and Chair about some of those aspects that are very homogeneous to us all. And I'll turn it over to her to share those aspects and having just recently met with the council in terms of hearing what's coming from them, on the ground floor.

Yeah, thanks. I mean, I think it's actually really exciting times and we're in a period of great change, which is fantastic for opportunities I think across the country, but also creates its own challenges. I think one of the biggest things that we see across the provinces, is the issue of understanding the role. I think we still have a lot of work to do with that and visibility, both with other organizations, our partners provincially a nationally, and at various levels of government. So there's a lot of work being done from our provincial partner associations on really working with different organizations to support a better understanding of the nurse practitioner role, And then of course, opportunities for how the nurse practitioners can engage and work in health various health service delivery models. I would say there's a really big focus in supporting nurse practitioners to be an important part of the current primary care solution the needs for primary care access for Canadians.

So just making sure that as that conversation is evolving. I see some great work occurring across this country by our provincial associations, making sure that the nurse practitioner voice and consideration for the NPS part of that solution in that interdisciplinary team based model is occurring.

Yes, absolutely supporting your individual provincial or territorial organizations is paramount. But I also want to put a plug in for supporting NPAC. It's not very expensive to join, but it's really important to have that national voice that brings everything together. Because otherwise we're working in silos, when in fact we can… how I put it? We're bigger than the sum of our parts and I think that's why NPAC is so vitally important. And also, this discussion segues very nicely into one of the main reasons that we, I asked you to be on this podcast and that is to talk about Nurse Practitioner Week or NP week. We do have nurses we can May. Why do we have NP week? Also, and when was it developed? How was it developed? … all that stuff. Can you tell us more about it?

So certainly, so, NP week has existed globally, for many decades. However, in Canada we probably only mostly recently endorsed it probably within like say the last 10 years. I certainly think it's really important that we do that simply because it's a way to establish our identity and terms of who we are, the role that we play in our healthcare system, and also to give recognition to the work, the knowledge, the expertise that nurse practitioners have and hold within our healthcare system. For the lack of a better word, I think that the recognition was often challenging for many because, even though that the role has been around for over 50 years, the public is still very not well informed about who we are and what we do.

And so once again this is, as a national week, NP Week gives us the opportunity to do that to really communicate with media, with various stakeholders and government, our colleagues in all the different health professions, as well to really highlight who we are and what we do and how we can contribute, to dealing with those very difficult and challenging health service delivery issues that we face ahead. So, what I can say is that, belonging to your national NP association is extremely valuable. It's very cheap and you get a lot of mileage out of it, believe it or not. And so as an organization we are continuing to grow those opportunities.

And, in the coming months you'll see some new opportunities for some professional development activities. You'll also see some actual new resources for NPs, to be able to access.

academic materials that they want to utilize for their in their practice. Some various software and applications that they want. So, those definite pieces are, are developing and growing.

But the I think the other part I'd like to say is that behind the scenes, the board works tirelessly as a voluntary structure to really look at those health and social policy issues from my federal lens, but then also taking in distilling that down and what does that mean in terms of our provincial entities and how do we work together to deal with these very challenging issues that face us all. As we know that health is a provincial mandate, or jurisdiction in our country.

But we need to collectively come together and really think about how, although we may be different in some ways we're not that desperately different, and we need to leverage each other's support and being able to maximize what we do and how we do it. That includes everything from education regulation to health service delivery. So, hats off to those who have who have joined us and support us and really a plug to encourage those to consider joining


Can I just share. Also, a little bit about my experience? I was a member of NPAC previously and I've been actively involved in different ways in my own province, but I didn't, I wasn't as involved until the opportunity this year. And what I can say is, it's really been hope generating for me. We've been facing so many challenges as nurse practitioners I think at the provincial levels at a federal level lots of barriers, there's also a lot of really exciting movement forward.

And I think for me being able to look at this in a larger national picture, and to see the exciting things that are occurring, to learn from our other provincial partners, and to have really some amazing brilliant minds coming together to share opportunities for what we can do as a national organization and as a country to support our patients, has been really hopeful. I think that that is something that is sometimes lost when your day to day in the trenches caring for really complex patients, working within systems that have not really been well orientated to advanced practice nursing and understanding that role. Having this national voice in the National Association and NP week, I think, create some excitement, some celebration and a lot

of hope. And I think that that in and of itself is a strong enough reason to, hopefully, continue to be able to grow as an organization.

I think you both brought on some really really important points. I really think that both of you have alluded to the fact that nurse practitioner week, although we talk about it, and it's true, is really important tool to use to, to demonstrate to the public into the world what we do, but it's also an opportunity for us to reflect on what we do and to learn and grow and learn from each other and to be re-energized, in, in the role that we've had. Those are really valuable and important and I just before we forget I forget; I will definitely post a link to the Nurse Practitioner Association of Canada's website so that people can log in and see how easy it can be to become a member if you're not yet doing so. I guess to circle back a little bit, then, is there anything else that you'd like to add about what nurse practitioners can do to take part in nurse practitioner week?

Well, I'm happy to start and jump in Stan, I think the main thing is to get involved, to really look, I mean it's a great opportunity for nurse practitioners day to day if they haven't been involved in their associations, provincially, or nationally, to take that week to reflect and get involved. To celebrate one another, to get active to start thinking about advocacy work they need to do, and I really think there's another important piece that as nurse practitioners, we need to really sound proudly in our identity. And this is an opportunity, a formal opportunity and invitation really to do that during this week, sharing who we are and what we do and how we contribute as unique members to the health care of Canadians. I think that the nurse practitioner week gives us a bit of a platform, and a voice, and a way to start those conversations

Not as a “compared to this group” and “compared to that group” just like This is Who We Are.

This is what we do. Thanks. I love that.

Absolutely. And I, I couldn't agree with you more I think, I think one of the things that we haven't probably haven’t been good at is telling our story, and often as, Laura you mentioned, , we work in the trenches head down, trying and working to deal with those very complex issues of how to navigate a health system to deliver the most optimal care we can for patients and families. But at the same time, it's taking the time to breathe and reflect and to say okay, I've done all this amazing work but who knows about it, who understands what I'm doing there?

And so, this is an opportunity, to tell your story, how do you do that? It's as simple as sharing in the social media but what you do and what you're thankful for what you do and acknowledge yourself, engage the media in terms of telling your story about who you are and what you do, talking to your Member of Parliament, or your member of the Legislative Assembly, or MLA to really share with you who you are. There's many different facets and ways to share your story and I think that's what we really need to do to, to kind of continue to evolve, who we are and to really kind of educate those about the work that we have been doing and will continue

to do and will continue to evolve. I'm happy to say I'm proud to be a nurse practitioner.

I every day go to work, knowing that I make a difference in the lives of those who, who I work with and so, for me, I really think that that's, we need to be proud of and we need to continue to celebrate that work so I encourage people to get involved. We have a number of board positions that come up as our annual elections are and so those are open for people to become involved in. There’s committee work. And I think the other part is just get involved in however you want to be. It doesn't have to be something large if you don't have the time for it, but it can be as small as contributing to a policy statement or briefing or being involved in some survey or research to tell your story who you are and what your, perhaps your contribution has been or will be so like as I get involved, know, however small it will be, it's still very additive in terms of its effect.

And, and I think, I'm in a leadership course and I was working with another health sector leader who works in media. And he had some great advice he said, I think, nurse practitioners need to tell their story but not just their story the story of the care they provide. And that narrative hasn't been as clear in the media. What are some amazing moving patient stories and how do we really mobilize the public through understanding what we do by sharing those stories.

I think there's something really powerful to that and I think there's additional work we can do. Again it to me that's the hopeful work because I hear, as I'm sure you do, inspiring stories of care and connection with patients from our teams every day, and I feel as though those aren't widely heard, and certainly not in the media portrayed as often so this is an opportunity for us to really move forward and start those celebrations.

I think you're absolutely right. I have this, this little theory that the superpower of nurse practitioners is our connection with the patients, and our ability to, to provide the care them in a way that's, that's really holistic and a way that they really appreciate. You hear over and over and over again how patients who seniors practitioners are so grateful and they love the care that they get that they're given. But we're not good at, if we have a fatal flaw of anything it's we're not good at, at sounding out what we do and how well we do it. I know other groups find that easy but I guess we don't. Maybe we don't recognize it, but so this week has a lot of layers and there's a lot of ways that you can be re-energized. Like we said get out there and, and tell people what we do. And really, the hope part is the part that I like the most, from what we've discussed today I think that's really important.

In the spirit of that can I share an inspiring story that I recently heard?


The beautiful connection that NPS can bring to patients. So, on my team we have two nurse practitioners that work in a specialty area providing care to women. One of one day they received a knock on the door from an elderly gentleman, and apparently this gentleman has a diagnosis of dementia and had gotten disorientated and had called his family member who just fortuitously receives care at this clinic. He said I don't really know where I am, but described the general area of where he was. And the family member said, I need you to look for the blue door, you need to look for the blue door and knock on the door, because the nurse practitioners there will take care of you and will find me. So go find the blue door, and he went and found the blue door this gentleman knocked on the door. The nurse practitioner and her nursing colleague, then we're able to bring him inside help find him connected to his family. What stood out to me as being beautiful and hopeful is, out of all the places that this individual could have directed their family member to go, they directed them to the nurse practitioner clinic because they knew the nurse practitioner clinic would help their family members safely reconnect with their family, and it was just a beautiful story that's not the work that they do that that's an everyday experience for NPS creating those connections in the community.

So, looking for the blue door to me has become a little bit of a symbol of that hope, and that connection that we provide every day to our patients and families.

Wow, that's wonderful. Thank you for sharing that. Amazing. It does make me more hopeful. I'm like I like all warm and fuzzy inside now.

We need that warm and fuzzy we need to evaluate, who we are and our identity and using our platforms to do so.

Yeah, absolutely.

Absolutely. And I really think that nurse practitioners are there and doing that every day. Whether you're in acute care, and you're working with the patient and family very acute phase everything else and making that very important transition to the community, to make sure that that care continues on is a very valuable piece. Whether they're in primary care receiving that patient from the acute care about, or in long term care, which we know is over the pandemic period has been an extremely challenging place when nurse practitioners have definitely stepped up to really, provide those very necessary supports and services for those who are most vulnerable in our system, or whether it's, nurse practitioners or we're working with people with addictions and mental health. We touch the lives of many in many different ways. And we do it as you say, from that very holistic perspective that perspective that we treat the person as a whole. We look to maximize what we can do for that person, and not necessarily compartmentalizing thing that's just saying that that's not our work. We'll do what we need to make it work for the for the patient and the family. Certainly in my career as a nurse practitioner I enjoyed that piece. Patients and families have come to know me very closely

and have come to me and continue to come to me as a trusted person who's a partner in their health. That's the part I really love. That's what gives me joy every day, and what gets me up in the morning to know that I am making a difference in the end the connection I have to those.

It's so true and I don't know of other health care providers that diagnose prescribe and address all the social determinants of health at the same time. We really do have a unique role, and we have to start standing up like you're saying.

Okay, is there anything else that you want to you just have to say about those out there is about nurse practitioner week, NPAC, anything?

Well, I wanted to just mention I think for nurse practitioner week as well. It's also important to celebrate where we've come from and all the heavy lifting that people have done to get us where we are at currently. So looking at our mentors, our scholars, our clinical leaders and really looking for ways to celebrate these individuals who do heavy lifting on a daily basis and also help to get us where we are today. And I think part of that and I'll let Stan share, can be done through NPAC in that we've created some recognition awards, and we're really hopeful to get some great, nurse practitioners nominated. I think we already have some coming in to share at a national level some of this amazing work.

Most certainly, and I would also add that we really need to think about our nurse practitioner students. They are the future, as well and we need to ensure that we support them in, , recognizing, they're entering a time and health care where there's a lot of turmoil. But we need to help support them in integrating into practice, showing them the value of what it is to belong to their association, connecting them with, the resources they need to be successful.

Maybe we need to look at nurse practitioner week as an opportunity to look at our profession and care for our profession, the way we care for our patients with that holistic view with the, the empathy and the understanding that we afford to everybody else around us.

Roberta I couldn't agree with you more self-care is so important. Self-care for our profession. And, I think that ways in which we can do that is, I think, is coming together and acknowledging and recognizing each other, but also sharing in the experiences we have.

As you've pointed out, I don't know that we have done that very well, but we need to tell our story. If anything that the pandemic has shown are taught me is the power of the images that we saw of people behind the mask was quite amazing to see in terms of the strife, the anguish, the tears. There are so many different emotions that I think about, but at the

same time that I think we need to also take a step back and to really practice some of that self-care for ourself and really really take the opportunity to engage in and other activities that really can rejuvenate us and give us some ability to define that space, and that time, and that energy to, to, to renew. So we know who we are and what we're able to do.

Well I think this has been a fabulous discussion. Thank you so much for agreeing to do the podcast. I will make sure that it's posted everywhere and hopefully people will listen to it and share and become engaged in activities during nurse practitioner week and look at the NPAC website and join and do something, do something with NPAC that's exciting and challenging and interesting to them.

Well thank you, Roberta for the opportunity and like I said, we look forward to sharing more stories of those who have come across over during NP week and also celebrating those with the various awards. And once again, engaging within our social media channels, and media about the work that we are doing and will continue to do. And, and how people can get to know us how do you how do you come in, get in contact with us.

Sounds good. Any last words, Laura.

No just thanks so much for having us and hopefully we can come back in the future and talk about more exciting things occurring across Canada This is fantastic.

Good, I will hold you to that. This is an important way for us to add to the dissemination of NP work across Canada. Thanks!

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