How has the profile of Australian nurse practitioners changed over time?
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Aim: To examine longitudinal changes in the profile of Australian nurse practitioners surveyed in both 2007 and 2009 (‘resurveyed respondents’) and to determine differences between nurse practitioners who completed the census only in 2009 (‘new respondents’) and resurveyed respondents. Background: The nurse practitioner role is integral to the development and sustainability of advanced practice roles in healthcare systems. However, its success depends upon support from policy makers, health services and nursing. A census of Australian nurse practitioners previously was conducted in 2007 to obtain national data on the role and scope of practice of nurse practitioners in Australia. Design: A quantitative self-administered survey. Methods: Questionnaires were sent to all authorised Australian nurse practitioners in 2009. Results/findings: A total of 408 surveys were administered with 293 questionnaires completed (response rate 76.3%). Of these, 49% of participants also had completed the 2007 survey. There were no differences in the limitations and enablers identified in 2007 compared to 2009, indicating that perceived barriers had not been addressed over time, nor had there been substantial improvements. New respondents were more likely to have worked as a nurse practitioner in the previous week (p < 0.004). There was a significant increase in the number of nurse practitioners waiting on approval for some or all clinical protocols (p = 0.024). Conclusions: Conditions enabling work to full scope of practice continue to be perceived as suboptimal by Australian nurse practitioners. Supportive strategies are needed to enable the role to be effectively utilised.
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