Collaborative practices a model for the province

urse practitioner Dara Lee MaDonald speaks with collaborative practice patient Stephen Dickson about his medications during a recent clinic visit.

Stephen Dickson, a retired Bell Canada executive, and his wife were on a waiting list for a family doctor when the Eastside Collaborative Care Centre opened in New Glasgow in 2010.

The collaborative practice was a joint partnership between the former Pictou County Health Authority (now Nova Scotia Health Authority) and the Nova Scotia Department of Health.

Collaborative practice is interprofessional collaboration – health care professionals working together to provide the best possible care for patients and clients of the practice.

Dickson required and experienced health care during his career in many provinces, the United States and New Zealand and considers the Nova Scotia health care system the best of them all.

He believes the collaborative practice model is right for Nova Scotia.

“This collaborative practice concept is the best for patients,” he said, adding that he hopes the model will be available to everyone in the province.

His family doctor, Dr. Rasha Al-Manahi, is one of three to six family doctors working together as a team along with a nurse practitioner, chronic disease management nurse, family practice nurses, social worker, dietitian, pharmacist, clerical and administrative staff. 

In the more traditional family medicine arrangement, people sometimes see doctors for issues that could be handled by another health care provider. For example, a nurse practitioner can prescribe some medications, can order laboratory and diagnostic imaging tests and scans and may be able to spend more time screening clients.  This allows doctors to have more time available to see patients and clients who do need to see a doctor to resolve their issue.

By working together and sharing information, health care professionals can also address risk factors such as obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and poor diet before they lead to a chronic condition or an emergency.

When Dickson met with the clinic’s dietitian, Eileen MacKenzie, he expected to be put on a diet.  Instead, he explained, they had a conversation about diet and food that motivated him to lose weight.

“What the people do here is intangible,” said Dickson.  “They don’t heal you; they make you heal yourself.”

“Everyone in the practice takes an interest in you.  It’s accessible, exceptional medical service delivered with compassion that they can be proud of.”

Understanding that this type of practice is appealing to future doctors, the collaborative practice hosts medical students completing core rotations as part of their undergraduate training.

The collaborative practice serves approximately 10,000 patients.