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Alberta to pay nurse practitioners up to 80 per cent of what family doctors make

EDMONTON — The Alberta government announced Thursday a new payment model that would allow nurse practitioners to make 80 per cent of what family doctors are paid.

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange said nurses eligible for the payment plan must commit to caring for 900 patients and operate their clinics on weekends, evenings and holidays. They also must accept walk-ins.

She said compensation will depend on how many patients are being served, with pay being higher for nurses with more patients. 

“Roughly 80 per cent of what a physician can do is roughly what a nurse practitioner will be doing,” LaGrange said.

“We want this program to be successful, so we are providing numerous incentives and supports for nurse practitioners to take part.”

She said one of those supports is providing nurse practitioners an additional $75 per patient once they reach the 900-patient mark.

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said Albertans have struggled to access primary care services and the program should help address the problem. 

“This is an exciting step forward in our journey to refocus the health-care system and expand primary health care,” Smith said.

“Certainly there’s much more work to be done. But make no mistake, we’re on our way.”

LaGrange said the program is to be made available to 50 nurse practitioners this year. Those practitioners have two years to get 900 patients.

“Once the program is fully implemented, they will be able to serve at minimum approximately 45,000 patients, which is an amazing number and will go a long way to address current access issues,” LaGrange said.

The province is to review the program in five years to ensure it’s meeting primary care needs. There will also be an audit process for accountability reasons, LaGrange said.

Jennifer Mador, president of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta, said the plan offers an opportunity to remove obstacles.

She said there aren’t enough family doctors in the province to offer primary care, and nurse practitioners can help.

“There will be some growing pains, but I’m excited for the potential this model provides,” Mador said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2024.

— By Jeremy Simes in Regina

The Canadian Press

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