Clinical assistants being added to health-care system

FREDERICTON (GNB) – Clinical assistants will be hired to provide patients with care in both of the province’s regional health authorities.

The clinical assistant program is a partnership involving the government, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick, the Vitalité and Horizon health networks and the New Brunswick Medical Society.

The first positions will be posted in the coming weeks, and up to 24 clinical assistants will be hired over the next three years.

“The introduction of clinical assistants is one more concrete example of how we are working to ensure New Brunswick patients can access the care they need, when they need it,” said Health Minister Bruce Fitch. “The clinical assistant program represents a wonderful opportunity to have talented internationally trained physicians provide valuable medical services to the health system. New Brunswickers will benefit from the knowledge of these internationally educated health professionals who otherwise would be unable to share their knowledge and expertise at this level.”

The credentials of clinical assistants will be assessed and approved, and each person will then be licensed through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick.

Clinical assistants will work under the direct supervision of a licensed physician, within the confines of the scope of practice and position description.

Their work will include:

· Providing surgical assistance for elective and emergency surgeries.

· Evaluating and providing care for hospitalized patients in conjunction with an attending physician.

· Participating in on-call rotation during statutory holidays, weekends and evenings.

· Practising in a collaborative fashion as a member of the interdisciplinary team and consulting with members of other health-care professions as appropriate.

“Internationally trained medical professionals are already an essential component of New Brunswick’s health-care system,” said Dr. Laurie Potter, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick. “This new licensing pathway will allow for better integration of these talented medical professionals into our health-care system, while also filling some of the gaps created by the health human resource challenges in our health system.”

Eventually, clinical assistants are expected to be hired in all of the province’s health zones.

“We are excited to welcome clinical assistants into our health-care system,” Dr. Natalie Banville, senior vice-president of client programs and medical affairs for Vitalité Health Network. “Adding these professionals will help improve the care provided to New Brunswickers. We believe initiatives like this contribute to the overall growth of our health system and we will continue to work with our partners to improve access to timely health care for the people of New Brunswick.”

The goal of this program is to relieve pressure on the health-care system, such as surgical services, and improve patient flow in hospitals and other facilities.

“We are pleased to be part of the implementation of this new health-care role in New Brunswick”, said Dr. Ashley McLellan, Horizon Health Network’s medical director for the Fredericton and Upper River Valley area. “The clinical assistant program will assist us in achieving our goals of improving patient experience and flow, as well as physician retention and recruitment and access to services. This program also provides an excellent opportunity for physicians not currently working in our health-care system to contribute to the health and well-being of New Brunswickers.”

Applications will be open to graduates of institutions listed in the World Directory of Medical Schools.

“We are pleased to collaborate with the government of New Brunswick and other health-care partners to realize this new opportunity for internationally trained medical professionals to contribute their expertise,” said Dr. Paula Keating, president of the New Brunswick Medical Society. “This initiative should help relieve some of the pressure the health human resource shortage has placed on our province’s hospitals.”

This initiative builds on the government’s other efforts to recruit more health-care workers and to recognize the knowledge and skills of internationally educated workers.

Media Contact:
Sean Hatchard, communications, Department of Health,