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A trial of nurse practitioner scope of practice

journal contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by A Gardner, G Gardner
Aims. The aim of this paper is to report a trial to investigate the feasibility of the nurse practitioner role in local health service delivery and to provide information about the educational and legislative requirements for nurse practitioner practice.

Background. Nurse practitioners have been shown to offer a beneficial service and fill a gap in health care provision. However, the lack of publications describing, critiquing, or defending the way that existing nurse practitioner roles have been developed may lead to a lack of clarity in comparing the nurse practitioner scope of practice internationally. In Australia, credible exploratory research is needed to realize the potential of nurse practitioners to bridge the divide of inequitable distribution of health services. A trial of nurse practitioner services in the Australian Capital Territory provided an excellent opportunity to investigate these scope and continuity issues.

Methods. This was an observational analytic study using multiple data sources. Four models of nurse practitioner service were chosen from a competitive field of applications that were evaluated according to efficacy, feasibility, and sustainability across specified selection criteria. Each model in the trial included a clinical support team, with the nurse practitioner candidate 'working-into-the-role' and collecting demographic, clinical practice, patient outcome, and health service and consumer survey data over a 10 month period.

Findings. The trial identified the broad potential of the nurse practitioner role, its breadth and limitations, and its impact on selected health services in the Australian Capital Territory. Data from individual models were compared highlighting generic elements, and formed the basis for the development of the scope of practice for the Australian Capital Territory nurse practitioner models.

Conclusions. This study has validated a research-based, iterative process for initial development of nurse practitioner scope of practice for any Australian specialization. Importantly, the study concluded with the scope of practice as a finding, rather than commencing with it a priori. Although general areas of health care need and under-servicing were identified at the outset, the process tested both the expansion and parameters of the roles.

History

Journal

Journal of advanced nursing

Volume

49

Issue

2

Pagination

135 - 145

Publisher

Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Location

Oxford, England

ISSN

0309-2402

eISSN

1365-2648

Language

eng

Notes

Submitted for publication 2 May 2003 Accepted for publication 30 April 2004

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2005, Blackwell Publishing Ltd

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