School nurses to wield pill prescription pads
Last Updated Tue, 26 Apr 2005 21:20:08 EDT
MONTREAL - Teenagers in Quebec can get birth control pills without seeing a doctor, as part of an effort to reduce the province's rate of teen pregnancies and abortions.
The role of school nurses, who used to treat simple scraped knees and upset stomachs, is expanding to include birth control prescriptions.
Girls will need to see a doctor to renew their birth control prescription.
INDEPTH: The birth control pill
Effective immediately, Quebec's college of physicians allows school nurses to prescribe a three-month supply of the pill, and counsel teens about contraception without waiting for a teen to bring up the topic.
Teen girls will need to consult a doctor for a physical exam before getting the birth control prescription renewed, said Dr. Yves Lamontagne, president of the college.
Students with high blood pressure of diabetes won't receive a prescription.
Those 14 and older in the province can see a doctor without their parents' knowledge.
"I think I'd be more comfortable with my school nurse than having to make an appointment and going to my doctor, especially if I'm trying to hide it from my mom," said Lisa Lannatone of Westmount High in Montreal.
Teens may not think to make a doctor's appointment for themselves, but a school nurse can step in to help.
For years, nurses across Canada have been seeking a larger role in health care.
Bringing down teen pregnancy and abortion rates is a first step towards that end, provincial health officials said.
"The problem was, how long would it take to have an appointment with a physician to have access to an oral contraceptive?" said Dr. Yves Robert, secretary of Quebec's Order of Physicians. "It could be as long as a few weeks."
CBC ARCHIVES: The Birth Control Pill
FROM APRIL 20, 2005: Morning-after pill switches to non-prescription in Canada
Not all school nurses are on board.
"If I start to sign a prescription for birth control, there's a lot of health promotion that I won't be able to do," said Claude Davilmar, a nurse at Lauren Hill Academy in St. Laurent.
The rate of teenage pregnancies has jumped since 1980, according to Quebec's Health and Social Services Ministry. From 1980 to 1992, the rate increased by 57 per cent, up four per cent per year, on average.
Personal note: my counselling professor (who I'm also semi-related to) was on the news relating to the story, and she's all for it (she has 2 teenage girls). I think this is awesome. Baby steps baby steps...