Supply and distribution of primary healthcare registered nurses in british columbia.
ABSTRACT WHAT DID WE DO?: This study uses an existing data source to (a) describe the population and geographic distribution of registered nurses (RNs) working in primary healthcare (PHC) in British Columbia, (b) compare this workforce to PHC physicians and (c) assess the distribution of PHC-RNs relative to population health status. WHAT DID WE LEARN?: Of the 27,570 practising RNs in British Columbia in 2000, there were 3,179 (12%) in the PHC workforce. This translates into 147 people per practising RN and 1,277 people per PHC-RN. In 2000, there were 990 people per PHC physician. PHC-RNs represented 43% of the combined PHC workforce of physicians and RNs. A large proportion (47%) of PHC-RNs worked in community health centres, whereas less than 2% worked in physicians' offices. Geographic distribution of PHC-RNs is similar to the distribution of PHC physicians and is not associated with population health status. WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS?: There seem to be sufficient PHC-RNs to implement policy objectives in support of interdisciplinary PHC teams, but physicians and nurses will increasingly need to practice in the same location or have access to electronic information systems to support coordination, continuity and comprehensiveness of PHC. The PHC workforce could be better deployed to align with population health status.