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NEWS RELEASE · 11th May 2010
Ministry of Health Services
Nurses are an important part of the backbone of British Columbia's health-care system, and the Province invites all British Columbians to celebrate National Nursing Week, May 10-16, 2010, by thinking about what nursing and nurses mean to you. The Province has also officially declared this week to be Nurses Week.

"Having seen firsthand the commitment nurses have to providing high-quality care from my mother, who was a nurse, I would like to thank all of our province's nurses for their hard work and dedication," said Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon. "Across British Columbia, thousands of nurses are making profound differences in the lives of their patients."

National Nursing Week was first started in Canada in 1985. Each year it takes place in the second week of May, to coincide with Florence Nightingale's birthday on May 12. The International Council of Nurses also designates May 12 as International Nurses Day.

"Every day nurses are called upon to contribute their knowledge and skill in stressful, demanding situations while offering a caring hand to their patients," said Moira Stilwell, Minister for Advanced Education and Labour Market Development. "That's why it's so important we continue to support programs across B.C. to train nurses and ensure that British Columbians get the health care they need in the future."

The theme of National Nursing Week this year is "Nursing - Can't Live Without It!" To highlight the wide range of roles and responsibilities taken on by nurses across B.C., the Ministry of Health Services is focusing on five unique groups of nurses: palliative care nurses, Aboriginal nurses, military nurses, street nurses and male nurses.

"Nurses play an important role in the health care system at many different levels, from working with patients in hospitals, health clinics and public health facilities to working in administrative roles, to teaching," said Sally Thorne, director of the School of Nursing at UBC. "National Nursing Week is a time to reflect on the positive impact nurses have had on the lives of individuals and their families and friends."

The 2001 B.C. Nursing Strategy set out to address the Province's need to recruit, retain and educate more nurses. Since then, over $230 million has been invested in the Nursing Strategy. The strategy has helped lift the total number of nurses in British Columbia to a record high of more than 49,900 - up 37 per cent since 2001.

Since 2001, the number of nursing education spaces has doubled by adding over 4,000 across the province and 25 new nursing programs created. A record number of nurses have graduated since 2001 - more than 17,000.

In 2005, nurse practitioners were introduced in B.C. to fulfil additional roles in the areas of primary care, chronic disease, disease prevention and health promotion. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with additional education at the master's degree level, who practise as independent health professionals. Nurse practitioners are becoming a very valuable component of the continuum of care. In 2010, B.C. reached over 150 nurse practitioners with practising licences.