Nurse Practitioners are registered nurses with advanced educational preparation and experience who are authorised to practise in an expanded nursing role in clinical settings as diverse as hospitals and aged care facilities, as well as in the community. This is another exciting role for nurses and we're looking forward to sharing the success stories of people who have chosen to pursue this area of nursing.
Movement for Nurse Practitioners Flourishes
By Elspeth McLean, Otago Daily Times, 18 January 2010
Eight years after nurse practitioners began registration in New Zealand, the movement for them is gathering real momentum, Otago and Southland district health boards' regional chief nursing and midwifery officer Leanne Samuel says.
Sixty-three nurse practitioners are registered nationally, two of them working for the Otago board.
Ms Samuel said about six senior nurses in Otago and a further four in Southland could soon be entering the registration process.
They were nurses already with masters qualifications.
They could seek registration in several fields including mental health, wound management, aged care, palliative care, primary health care or rural health.
The number of nurse practitioners nationally had practically doubled in the past year and there was increasing awareness within the profession of the requirements for registration.
Ms Samuel said a significant number of nurses were getting support through the Ministry of Health's Clinical Training Agency to undertake postgraduate education at masters level.
In due course these nurses might consider seeking nurse practitioner registration.
This funding support was a "massive step forward" as in the past lack of funding had been a huge barrier to many nurses who wanted to pursue further studies.
There was still some way to go in educating people about the role of the nurse practitioner and Ms Samuel said she had sometimes heard it used to describe a practice nurse.
In the future, she expected there would be an increasing number of opportunities to establish nurse practitioner positions in the hospital and community setting in those areas where there was clinical need and workforce shortages.
The Otago board's two nurse practitioners, Bernadette Forde-Paus and Liz Langer, both feature in a Ministry of Health publication issued last month, "Nurse Practitioners: A healthy Future for New Zealand" publicising the role of nurse practitioners and highlighting the work of some of the first 50 practitioners appointed.
Ms Forde-Paus, who works with adults with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disability and a major mental illness, was the first nurse practitioner to be appointed in the South Island in 2004.
Wisconsin nurse practitioner Liz Langer, with 20 years' experience specialising in the psychiatric care of the elderly, was appointed in 2007.
Both nurse practitioners have prescribing rights.
Ministry of Health chief nurse Dr Mark Jones has described the first nurse practitioners as courageous people who were under the spotlight from their communities, their profession and other professions.
"They've shown great tenacity and resilience to reach this point and should be commended for that."
The role was misunderstood when first introduced eight years ago and embedding the role into the health system had not been all plain sailing , but the role was now flourishing, Dr Jones said.