A $4.5 million investment into healthcare is helping the Government of Saskatchewan exceed it's goals. It was announced last Friday that 27 new Nurse Practitioner spots would be opening in the province, and a trio of west-central Saskatchewan communities were on the list. 

Biggar, Wilkie and Outlook were on the list of 25 communities total set to receive extra help. Nurse Practitioner's are nurses with additional training who works within a primary care team to "support a higher scope of practice", providing many of the same services that family physicians. That list includes the ability to prescribe medication, assess, diagnose and treat acute and chronic illness, order diagnostic tests, admit and discharge patients, and finally perform medical procedures as well as the ability to provide referrals to specialists. 

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"Nurse Practitioners play a vital role in the Saskatchewan health care system, and adding positions in rural and remote areas will help residents find the care they need closer to home," Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Tim McLeod said. "We look forward to seeing more Nurse Practitioners providing quality care in Saskatchewan communities."

Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners (SANP) President Elect Michelle O'Keefe, and Saskatchewan Health Authority Vice-President for Integrated Northern Health and Chief Nursing Officer Andrew McLetchie were pleased by the news of extra support. Not only will this create jobs, but will impact the overall healthcare system in a positive way with more patients being seen throughout the day.

The over $4 million was included in this year's budget as the government looks to "increase access to primary care in underserved areas", and Monday was the final day to apply for the permanent positions in rural and remote areas of the province. Saskatchewan currently has 360 licensed NPs in the province.