Government of Canada nurses who work in First Nations communities provide quality nursing practice, which is evidence informed and respectful of culture, to enhance the health of First Nations people.

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Where nurses work

Nurses work in First Nations communities south of 60 degrees latitude in rural, remote or isolated communities. With more than 600 First Nations communities across Canada, there are 79 nursing stations and over 195 health centres serving these communities. Nurses are often the communities' main point of contact with the health care system. In about half of these primary health care centres, registered nurses are employed by the Government of Canada. In other communities, nurses are employed by band councils, which have responsibility for health care services through a transfer agreement.

Regional offices within the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) employ hundreds of nurses across Canada. The Clinical and Client Care Program within the Primary Health Care Systems Division of FNIHB develops standards, policies and guidelines and leads national initiatives, while regional offices provide various services and supports and manage staff and activities within nursing stations on reserve.

What nurses do

The provision of primary health care in remote and culturally diverse communities places unique demands on nurses in First Nations communities. In homes, schools, health centres and nursing stations, nurses might:

  • visit new parents and facilitate new baby care
  • provide immunization
  • encourage physical activity
  • facilitate community education sessions
  • provide primary care services for common conditions during scheduled clinics
  • attend to emergency needs, such as trauma, obstetrical emergencies, cardiac conditions

Primary care

As there is limited access to hospitals and doctors, nurses in remote communities often provide care that requires advanced knowledge, skills and clinical judgment and a holistic approach to care for clients requiring treatment for routine, acute and emergency health problems, focusing on:

  • health promotion
  • disease prevention
  • illness management
  • clinical assessment

Community health nursing

Nurses working in First Nations communities are responsible for planning and implementing culturally appropriate health programs.

Any nurse who lacks formal education in community health nursing receives financial support to successfully complete courses in this field, which may be credited toward a baccalaureate nursing degree.

To learn more

To learn more about the Government of Canada's current nursing opportunities:

Standards of practice

The following documents provide assessment resources and clinical practice guidelines for nurses working in First Nations communities:

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