RhPAP continues its celebration of 2020 The Year of the Nurse and the Midwife with profiles of three nurse practitioners (NPs) in rural Alberta. These articles by Lorena Franchuk discuss how NPs contribute to health care throughout Alberta and how their integration is working in two rural clinics.
Jessica Halpern doesn’t mind digging deep into her patients’ history to try to improve their lives.
One role the newly-hired nurse practitioner at Arrowwood Medical is tasked with is pin-pointing what stands in the way of a patient’s ability to improve their health.
I love being the person … to walk this journey [with my patients] to figure it out to try and improve their quality of life.”
– Jessica Halpern, Arrowwood nurse practitioner
“It’s like unravelling a ball of yarn,” she said, noting her salaried position with the Calgary Rural Primary Care Network gives her the opportunity to schedule longer appointments for education and lifestyle management.
“The medication is sometimes the simplest part of it all,” she said, noting her role is to identify clues that could pinpoint ways a patient might be able to better manage their chronic health issues.
“A nurse practitioner can be really useful, because … we can prescribe, diagnose, and make specialist referrals as needed,” Halpern said. “We are [also] used to that holistic sort of bedside care of a patient, the day-to-day, minute-to-minute kind of care that physicians just don’t have the time for.”
Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, chronic pain, and anxiety often occur simultaneously in patients. For positive change to occur, it’s important to learn the impact each condition may have on the others, she explained.
The team-based care advocated by the clinic’s founder Dr. Lana Fehr was a huge draw for Halpern. She’s struck by how many new patients thank her for taking the time to explain medical treatments to them.
“I love being the person … to walk this journey [with my patients] to figure it out to try and improve their quality of life. And it might take years.… It’s going to take a chunk of time to properly work through the diagnosis.”
— Lorena Franchuk
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