Advanced Practice Nursing in Belize

Snapshot

APN Role Exists in Country Today:
Yes

Title:
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Nationally Certified:
Yes

Recognize Foreign Licensure:
Yes

Treatment Authority:
Yes

Prescribing Authority:
Yes (Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner only)

Practice Autonomously:
Yes

Contact:
Belize Ministry of Health

Role

The state of health in Belize has a lack of health professionals in general (BMOH, 2014).  With the lack of a current medical school in the country, providers are frequently trained by neighboring countries as Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica (PAHO, 2009b). As can be imagined, Belize in turn relies heavily on regional international support for their health resource management and it is estimated that up to 30% of their medical providers are immigrated from those other countries.

Because of the lack of health professionals in general, frequently registered nurses autonomously provide care at an advanced practice level including basic diagnosis and treatment at rural health posts (PAHO, 2009b; BMOH, 2014).  Most often, the advanced role in such nursing situations are based on algorithms and protocols for decision making. Frequently they are used as triage agents to determine if an patient may be treated at the rural health post or needs to make the cumbersome trip to a higher level of care and see a medical provider.

Nursing in Belize is regulated by the Ministry of Health through the Nursing and Midwifery Act (Chapter 321, 2003), which currently is under revision by Belize legislature. Nursing according to the 2003 revision is identified according to the curriculum requirements for registration as a registered nurse, but no specific scope of practice is identified. Volunteer opportunities are available for Nurse Practitioners to work according to their scope of practice in their own country.  If an individual desires to work at this level, the would be encouraged to work as a part of a local Non-Governmental Organization and may need to inquire with the Ministry of Health if there are any limitations on their scope of practice.

In general prescribing is permitted for medical doctors and dentists exclusively (Misuse of Drugs Act, Ch. 103, Rev. 2003).  However, as long as there is an overseeing physician, nurses can write and dispense medications according to their understood protocol.

Education and Certification

Certifications for all three nursing specialties are available through the University of Belize.

Specialties

Based on the greatest needs of the Belize population, the University of Belize (2016) currently offers three certificates for an advanced role:

  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Rural Health Nursing
  • Practical Nursing

The main differentiation is that Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners are permitted to prescribe psychochotropic medications within certain protocols (PAHO, 2009b).

Have information to update this page?

References:
Belize Ministry of Health [BMOH] (2014). Belize Health Sector Strategic Plan 2014-2024.  Retrieved from: http://health.gov.bz/www/attachments/article/801/Belize%20Health%20Sector%20Strategic%20Plan%202014-2024-April%202014.pdf

Pan American Health Organization [PAHO] (2009a). WHO-AIMS report on mental health system in Belize. Retrieved from: http://new.paho.org/blz/index2.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=63&Itemid=250

Pan American Health Organization (2009b).  Health Systems Profile: Belize.  Retrieved from: http://www.paho.org/blz/index.php?option=com_docman&view=download&alias=64-health-sytems-profile-belize-monitoring-and-analyzing-health-systems-change-reform-july-2009&Itemid=250

University of Belize (2016).  Program offerings.  Retrieved July 14, 2016 from: http://www.ub.edu.bz/fnahsw/program_offerings.phpUpdated: July 14, 2016

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