Greetings from Peterborough! I hope that this letter finds you engaging in whatever makes your heart happy.
My name is Sheena Howard, and I am honoured to be the President of your OFPN. I was delighted to have met so many of you at our Biennial Conference in Ottawa on May 1st. I heard many stories about the history of OFPN, how membership has shaped your experience in primary care, and I also listened to your suggestions about next steps for OFPN. At the Conference, OFPN said goodbye to many long time executive members. It is because of their hard work and dedication that OFPN exists, and that nurses working in Primary Care in Ontario have an interest group that advocates and promotes our role in the province. Thank you for your inspiration and perseverance. I can promise we will continue to work hard for our members and for primary care nurses in Ontario. You have left a legacy that I hope you will be proud of.
The OFPN Executive has been experiencing a period of growth and change over the last few years. It is my goal to help strengthen OFPN and position OFPN and its membership as knowledge leaders in primary care nursing. It is also my belief that we can work with RNAO to ensure our knowledge capital is utilized for the betterment of patients accessing primary health care in Ontario.
OFPN has a strong membership, and I believe that our strength comes from the varied experiences and voice of our membership. There are over 4000 nurses who work in Primary Care in Ontario. It is my goal to reach as many of those nurses as we can, and I know that we will continue to actively engage with our current members and commit to reaching out and engaging with future OFPN members to ensure we are able to hear from primary care nurses across the province.
In order to secure the future of primary care nursing, we must look to our nursing students and to the Schools of Nursing to ensure that Primary Care Nursing is viewed and portrayed as an exciting and valuable nursing role. I had numerous conversations with nursing students at the RNAO AGM a few weeks ago in which they relayed disappointment in being told by their professors, preceptors, and mentors that; “choosing primary care nursing will result in a loss of your nursing skills”. I was disheartened, as I too was told that 15 years ago. I submit that neither you or I, have “lost our skills”, rather we have a unique set of nursing skills that allows us to provide evidence-informed, competent, primary care nursing to the right patient, at the right time. I believe that those nursing students who are drawn to choosing primary care nursing as their area of focus should be encouraged to do so. With OFPN’s help, I believe they will. It is my hope that OFPN will engage with Schools of Nursing in Ontario to help support them to include primary care in their curriculum, and placement options.
In this current climate of primary care redesign, we must be able to be identified as the knowledge experts and leaders we are. To that end, I am hoping that the OFPN membership will consider a name change that will reflect the current health care and political discourse of primary care. For some, this may be a challenge to consider given the years they have spent identifying as family practice nurses. To those members, I urge you to consider how our name provides recognition, and including primary care in our name will allow for us to be easily identified in this current climate of a shift in attentions toward primary health care as the grounding force of health care in the province.
I love being a primary care nurse and providing primary care nursing to patients. Nursing leadership, political action and advocating for and promoting the role of primary care nurses energizes me. I am thrilled to be able to combine my love of nursing, primary care and advocacy in my role as your President. Thank you for the opportunity. I am open and willing to speak to any OFPN member, future member, nursing student or primary care nurse in Ontario. Please, do not hesitate to contact me with your thoughts, concerns, challenges, or questions. Together, we can ensure a vibrant future for OFPN. I look forward to meeting you.