Three VON nurses training to become registered nurse authorized prescribers

3 individual photos of Melissa, Pamela and Jolene

VON is supporting three of our nurses in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to meet the requirements to become registered nurse authorized prescribers.

Registered nurses (RNs) Melissa Murchison, Pamela Ryan and Jolene Gray are enrolled in the certificate program in Registered Nurse Prescribing from the School of Nursing at Dalhousie University, and are scheduled to complete the course requirements by December 2024.

VON is financially supporting them to assist with the cost of tuition and books, as well as ensuring they have protected time to attend classes. Several provinces and territories have implemented or are considering implementing some level of registered nurse prescribing to help improve access to health care. 

The RN authorized prescriber has an expanded scope of practice enabling them to prescribe medications and devices and order relevant screening or diagnostic tests within their specific area of prescribing competence and practice. Registered nurse prescribers must complete additional education and meet additional registration requirements.

Through this additional education, nurses expand their role, with the potential for increased job satisfaction. They can also use their new knowledge to have a greater impact on client care and improve client access to care.

We asked all three nurses to talk to us about their motivation for taking the program and how they believe it will enrich their practice.

Why did you want to take part in this program? 

Expanding my education has always been important for me. Access to care can be a problem for some clients. I felt if I took the RN prescriber program that it would benefit clients and would help ease some of the strain on the medical system.
-    Melissa Murchison

I signed up for the RN-AP course to help our VON clients. The driving force behind my 20 years of working as a RN is to continually improve my knowledge and skill base to provide the best care to my clients. The opportunity was offered to us through our work. We are very fortunate to have supportive co-workers and a management team that has encouraged us through the whole process. The idea that I was able to continue working while being enrolled in the program was very important. 
-    Pamela Ryan

I have always been interested in continuing my education, however this is difficult working full-time and raising a family. When the opportunity was presented to enroll in this program I thought it was a great time to take on the challenge as I would be able to further my education and have the support of a great group of wonderful co-workers and management to help us along the way.  
-    Jolene Gray

How do you think this will enrich your practice?

Some of our clients have poor mobility or have no family practitioner. This program improves continuity and better access to care. Having an RN who can prescribe medications and order diagnostic testing come to the home will help them greatly. There is also the benefit of decreased emergency room or urgent care visits.  
-    Melissa Murchison

There is a great need for this role with the VON clientele. We have a lot of clients who do not have family practitioners or have great difficulty leaving their homes. My hope is to enhance the care that VON currently provides to our clients by being able to help people with access to prescription needs that they would otherwise have difficulty accessing. 
-    Pamela Ryan

I feel this will have a great impact on our clients’ health and comfort.  Many clients we look after are seniors and oftentimes struggle with accessing some of the newer virtual care modalities that have been recently implemented. This course will enable clients to have a care provider visit them in their own home along with get quicker access to resources and possibly avoid unneeded visits to the ER.
-    Jolene Gray