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Nurse Practitioner Week-Shelly: Addressing Gaps In Mental Health Care

November 8 to 14, 2020 is Nurse Practitioner Week where we celebrate the vital role that Nurse Practitioners play in our health-care system, including here at CMHA York Region and South Simcoe. In honour of this week, we thought we’d showcase some of our Nurse Practitioners here at CMHA. Here is the profile on Shelly, a Nurse Practitioner in our Flexible Supports Program.

Why did you decide to become a Nurse Practitioner?

I spent the better part of my career as a Registered Nurse (RN) working in mental health and addictions and have always been drawn and motivated to support people in achieving their highest level of health and wellness. I also learned, as many of us working in the mental health sector, of the needs and gaps that were present in the community.

With all this in mind, I decided to pursue my Masters in Nursing and Nurse Practitioner Certification and tailored my training throughout to focus on psychiatry with the hope that upon graduating, I would be able to fill the needs of the community. My goal was to be a Nurse Practitioner who can fill a dual role of providing services to my clients that address both primary, as well as the psychiatric needs of my clients.

What is your Nurse Practitioner work at CMHA? What do you do on a daily basis?

I work in the Flexible Care Clinic which is part of the Flexible Supports Program. I work in partnership with two nurses and a Psychiatrist to provide short term psychiatry services to clients who are experiencing homelessness and/or are precariously housed. Our services include conducting complete psychiatric assessments, diagnosis and treatment, along with a regular follow up for 3 to 6 months.

What do you love most about being a Nurse Practitioner?

As a Nurse Practitioner, I am able to integrate my years of experience as a RN, with the advanced knowledge I have gained in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of both physical and mental health conditions. I believe that this allows me to develop lasting and trusting relationships, provide comprehensive care, address gaps and needs in services and ultimately make a difference in my client’s lives.

How has being a Nurse Practitioner changed with COVID?

The biggest change was the move to providing our services via telemedicine. All of our client meetings are now conducted via Zoom. To be honest, I was worried about the loss of human contact and the in-person visits, but all in all this service has been well received. I also think that the ability to sit down in front of a laptop or phone to meet with your Nurse Practitioner has actually made it easier for some clients to attend their visits as it eliminates timing and travel barriers.

What’s something that someone might not know about Nurse Practitioners?

Nurse Practitioners are Registered Nurses who returned to complete their graduate degree. This allows us to expand on our scope of practices and skills and independently assess, diagnose, order tests, prescribe medications and follow-up on treatment plans. Essentially, we can provide all of the services that your Family Doctor or Psychiatrist can provide with a few limitations.

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