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Relevant research

Master of nursing graduate sees future in team-based primary care

special feature: Student success

Part of a special feature celebrating the success of Memorial's graduates. This feature coincides with spring convocation 2017.


By Marcia Porter

New master of nursing (MN) graduate Deanne Curnew is onto something that has her health-care colleagues talking — and inviting her to speak at conferences.

For completion of her master’s degree, the School of Nursing alumna delved into what was until recently a little studied area of nursing research: nursing involvement in primary health care in the Atlantic region.

Knowledge into practice

The St. John’s native recently won a Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Institute Community Service Travel Award to present her work at the 2017 Community Health Nurses of Canada national conference this summer.

Using resources in the School of Nursing’s new Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) Affiliated site, a worldwide collaboration for conducting systematic reviews of nursing research to translate knowledge into best nursing practice, she carried out a review of nursing involvement in primary care in Atlantic Canada.

Ms. Curnew discovered that in many parts of the region, including in this province, nurses are under-represented and rarely present in primary health-care practices, such as in physicians’ offices.

“(The team-based model) is the direction of nursing care in the province.” — Deanne Curnew

What’s significant is that, in parts of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia in particular, where nurses are incorporated into primary-care teams, patient outcomes are more positive. There are also high levels of client satisfaction, better clinical results and reduced costs over time.

Focal point

“We have a very real issue in Newfoundland and Labrador where people have difficulty accessing care, especially in rural and remote areas,” said Ms. Curnew, an instructor at Eastern Health’s Centre for Nursing Studies.

“We have high physician turnover rates and geographic access that really limits continuity of care and access. So, looking at these team-based models is very relevant. When I started to look at the immensity of the problem here in Newfoundland and Labrador, I thought, ‘this is where we need to start focusing our attention.’ This is the direction of nursing care in the province.”

“(A physician, a nurse and a paramedic) . . . work together and provide all primary care for that set of remote islands.” — Deanne Curnew

It was her graduate supervisor, Dr. Julia Lukewich, who encouraged Ms. Curnew to focus on nursing involvement in primary-care settings for her master of nursing degree project.

Dr Lukewich carried out groundbreaking work in this area of study for her doctoral degree; she recently earned a earned a best dissertation award for 2017 from the Council of Ontario University Programs in Nursing.

“One of the most interesting findings to me (in this review) was that there are some very innovative models of nursing care being implemented in other places,” said Ms. Curnew.

“In Nova Scotia, for example, there’s one model of care designed for a remote island and it was a partnership involving a physician, a nurse and a paramedic. They all work together and provide all primary care for that set of remote islands.”

Future of N.L. health care

Ms. Curnew would like to see her research used to conduct further study, and ultimately provide the kind of solid evidence that Newfoundland and Labrador needs to move ahead with team-based models in primary care.

“As long as we can provide evidence that government will see a return on its investment, then I believe a team-based model will be rolled out in the near future.”

Ms. Curnew will receive her master of nursing degree during spring convocation ceremonies at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre on June 2.


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