Research Project

Who are the Primary Health Care Registered Nurses in BC?

This report describes the population, distribution and location of Registered Nurses (RNs) working in primary health care-related (PHC-R) roles in BC. To categorize and identify RNs most likely practicing in a PHC-R role, the report analyzes registration information collected by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia (CRNBC) in 2000 using a combination of four variables – place of work, area of responsibility, position and work status.

Of the 27,570 practicing RNs in British Columbia in 2000, 3,179 (12%) were identified as providing PHC-R services. When factored as a ratio of workforce to population, this equals 78 PHC-R RNs per 100,000, or 1,277 people per PHC-R RN. The PHC-R RNs represent 43 per cent of the combined PHC RN and PHC physician workforce in BC.

The supply of PHC-R RNs varied across health service delivery areas (119 per 100,000 population in Kootenay Boundary to 56 per 100,000 in Fraser South) and local health areas (244 per 100,000 in Castlegar to zero in Arrow Lakes and Armstrong-Spallumcheen).

In 2000, there was no association between the supply of PHC-R RNs in a geographic area and that area’s health status, as measured by premature mortality rate (one of our best measures of population health). This was the case at both the health service delivery area level and local health area level. Similarly, the report found no association between the supply of PHC providers (PHC physicians and PHC-R RNs combined) and premature mortality. However, geographic areas with a lower supply of PHC physicians tend to have a greater supply of PHC-R RNs.

In order to illustrate the kind of work PHC-R RN undertake, Who are the Primary Health Care Registered Nurses in BC? includes three vignettes. The vignettes reveal that RNs are involved in core activities of PHC, suggesting that RNs are part of a PHC network that patients depend upon in order to meet their health needs.

Key Findings

  • Of the 27,570 practicing RNs in BC in 2000, 3,179 (12%) provide PHC-R services
  • The PHC-R RNs represent 43 per cent of the combined PHC RN and PHC physician workforce in BC
  • Supply of PHC-R RNs varies across health service delivery areas
  • There is no association between the supply of PHC-R RNs in a geographic area and that area’s health status
  • Areas with lower supplies of PHC physicians tend to have greater supplies of PHC-R RNs