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SANP is a non-profit, volunteer-run, professional organization that supports and advances the professional interests of its membership — NPs, NP students, and nurses who have an interest in the NP practice.

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Nurse Practitioner Student Loan Forgiveness- A Ruse?

By Debbie Bathgate

In August the government of Canada announced (http://news.gc.ca/web/article-eng.do?nid=689099) with pride and fanfare a new program designed to attract health care professionals to rural areas and thereby improving access to primary care. The program offers financial incentive to accept a rural Nurse Practitioner (NP) position by forgiving a portion of his or her Canada Student Loan. Projected to be effective the spring of 2013, on the surface most voters would think, “What a great idea!”

However, an brief random survey of some NP students in Saskatchewan proved that none surveyed had qualified for a Canada Student loan. For example, given a family with 2 adults and 2 children, and an income less that $40,000 per year, even with minimal savings and a vehicle only worth $3000, the nurse would not qualify for a Canada Student Loan.

All NP students are mature learners because RN experience is required for program entry. Therefore many have a partner with income, and also may have a few assets. These modest means eliminate student from qualifying for the loan. This is not to say that a novice NP would not begin practice in debt, but not to the Canada Student Loan program.

Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, and the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health have created a program which is largely inaccessible to Nurse Practitioners, will do little to improve primary health in rural communities, and in short is a ruse. Please write your these ministers and your local MP informing them that you are aware of this political game playing.

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