Shining the spotlight on RPNs: Ontario's 'unsung nursing heroes'

    Long marginalized, RPNS have a vital role to play in the future of
    Ontario's health care system

    TORONTO, May 11 /CNW/ - Dianne Martin has a solution for Ontario health
care institutions grappling with the effects of unprecedented budget cuts and
a critical nursing shortage. "Hire more registered practical nurses (RPNs),"
Martin says.
    "RPNs are registered, knowledgeable health care professionals who are
making breathtaking differences with patients around the province every day,"
says Martin, the Executive Director of the Registered Practical Nurses
Association of Ontario. "But even today, the profession remains largely
misunderstood by peers, health care administrators and the public."
    RPNs make up about a quarter of the nursing workforce in Ontario and work
in a wide range of health care settings. Registered by the College of Nurses
of Ontario, they are 'nurses' in every sense of the word and must meet
rigorous educational standards and are required to ensure they have up-to-date
    In recent media stories, a union spokesperson representing another group
of health care providers claimed that increased utilization of RPNs could pose
a risk to patient safety. "On the contrary, the presence of RPNs, who
specialize in the care of more stable patients, helps to free up registered
nurses (RNs) to care for more critically-ill patients," says Martin.
    "There's a wide range of patient conditions. And mixing RPNs with RNs is
a brilliant solution as long as it is based on patient need and not cost,"
says Martin. "Organizations who have utilized this model have found that it
serves them extremely well, helping them to provide excellent care while also
easing budget pressures."
    Martin stresses that amid economic and shortage-based pressures,
maintaining the status quo in nursing simply won't be sustainable. "If there
is a way to address these issues while maintaining a very high standard of
care, we owe it to ourselves to pursue it. Making better use of RPNs is a
practical approach that Ontario cannot afford to overlook."

    About the Registered Practical Nurses Association of Ontario (RPNAO)

    Founded in 1958, RPNAO is the voice of registered practical nursing in
Ontario. There are more than 33,000 registered practical nurses in Ontario,
playing a vital role in the province's health care system. For more
information, visit

For further information:

For further information: Dianne Martin, Executive Director, RPNAO, (905)
602-4664 ext. 226

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