A snapshot of Australian nurse practitioners' extended practice activities

Gardner, Glenn, Gardner, Anne, Middleton, Sandy, Della, Phillip, and Doubrovsky, Anna (2010) A snapshot of Australian nurse practitioners' extended practice activities. Nurse Practitioner Series, 3 (1). pp. 8-15.

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[Extract] The Australian Nurse Practitioner Project (AUSPRAC) was initiated to examine the introduction of nurse practitioners into the Australian health service environment. The nurse practitioner concept was introduced to Australia over two decades ago and has been evolving since. Today, however, the scope of practice, role and educational preparation of nurse practitioners is well defined (Gardner et ai, 2006). Amendments to specific pre-existing legislation at a State level have permitted nurse practitioners to perform additional activities including some once in the domain of the medical profession. In the Australian Capital Territory, for example 13 diverse Acts and Regulations required amendments and three new Acts were established (ACT Health, 2006). Nurse practitioners are now legally authorized to diagnose, treat, refer and prescribe medications in all Australian states and territories. These extended practices differentiate nurse practitioners from other advanced practice roles in nursing (Gardner, Chang & Duffield, 2007).

There are, however, obstacles for nurse practitioners wishing to use these extended practices. Restrictive access to Medicare funding via the Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) limit the scope of nurse practitioner service in the private health sector and community settings. A recent survey of Australian nurse practitioners (n=202)found that two-thirds of respondents (66%) stated that lack of legislative support limited their practice. Specifically, 78% stated that lack of a Medicare provider number was 'extremely limiting' to their practice and 71 % stated that no access to the PBS was 'extremely limiting' to their practice (Gardner et ai, in press). Changes to Commonwealth legislation is needed to enable nurse practitioners to prescribe medication so that patients have access to PBS subsidies where they exist; currently patients with scripts which originated from nurse practitioners must pay in full for these prescriptions filled outside public hospitals.

This report presents findings from a sub-study of Phase Two of AUSPRAC. Phase Two was designed to enable investigation of the process and activities of nurse practitioner service. Process measurements of nurse practitioner services are valuable to healthcare organisations and service providers (Middleton, 2007). Processes of practice can be evaluated through clinical audit, however as Middleton cautions, no direct relationship between these processes and patient outcomes can be assumed.

Item ID: 14941
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 978-0-9804129-6-3
Keywords: nurse practitioner; clinical audit; prescribing; extended practice
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"The Nurse Practitioner Series does not hold copyright. A copy of any documentation granting permission to reproduce material from other sources must be enclosed with the final version of the manuscript prior to publication."

Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2010 22:36
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1110 Nursing > 111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920210 Nursing @ 100%
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