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New nursing legislation will make industry more efficient, says union

On June 5, the province announced a new Nursing Act, which will bring all nurses under one regulatory body
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(stock photo)

On June 5, the province announced a new Nursing Act, which will bring all nurses under one regulatory body.

"I think it's a good thing, because there should be efficiencies when you bring two groups together. But more importantly, it will regulate the nursing profeisson under one set of rules," says Janet Hazelton, president of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union.

Previously, there were two Colleges of Nursing, one for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and the other for registered nurses (RNs) and nurse practitioners.

"This piece of legislation brings them together under one governing body," Hazelton tells NEWS 95.7's The Todd Veinotte Show.

Hazelton says the new act allows nurses to add specific types of nurses in the province, such as psychiatric nurses.

"Before, any changes that are made to the profession had to go to legislation," she explains. "Now the college will be able to do that without having to change legislation, which should make them better to react to the changing health care needs of Nova Scotians."

When the new Nursing Act was announced this week, Hazelton says many physicians were worried that nurses would no longer have to work with them.

"In the [old] legislation, the word collaborative was there, and it was removed in the new legislation," she says. "That gave concern to physicians that nurse practitioners no longer have to collaborate, which in fact is not true."

Hazelton explains that what the new act does is give the Nursing College the power to act autonomously from the government.

"For example, we're about to embark upon registered nurses prescribing medications," she says. "The college has to decide what the requirements would be, what does a nurse need for education before they're able to do this?"

The NSNU President explains that nurses will still be working closely with other nursing divisions and with physicians.

"It's part of our job to collaborate. We know we're part of a team, and we know that when we're not able to make certain decisions," she says.

Hazelton also hopes the new Nursing Act will provide consistency around decisions like hiring and keeping nursing students in the province after graduation.

"We do have a significant number of nurses retiring, and we need to work really hard keeping the grads that we have," she says.

A new deal with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the province's largest employer of nurses, will offer all nursing students a full time job in the province.

"Every nurse that's graduating now and within the next year or two will be offered full time work here in Nova Scotia.," explains Hazelton. "There is a significant amount of effort and energy being put into attracting the new grads to stay and work in Nova Scotia."

Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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