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New Nurse Practitioners Will Be A Boost For Health

Joint Statement from Nursing Council of New Zealand and Ministry of Health

New Nurse Practitioners Will Be A Boost For Health System

A NEW nursing qualification will create highly skilled nurses and encourage top nurses to stay and practice in New Zealand, says the Nursing Council of New Zealand and Ministry of Health.

The role of the Nurse Practitioner provides formal recognition for nurses with a Master's level education who want to excel at an advanced level of practice.

Nursing Council chair Judy Kilpatrick says the Nurse Practitioner position will give nurses something to aim for.

"Our highest level nurses will no longer have to leave nursing and go into management to be able to advance their careers. The Nurse Practitioner role offers a clinical career pathway for nurses, and should encourage more highly skilled nurses to stay and work in New Zealand."

The requirements for recognition as a Nurse Practitioner will be formally regulated by the Nursing Council, which will ensure consistent safety and quality and provide consistent messages to the health sector, Ms Kilpatrick says.

Ministry of Health Chief Advisor Nursing, Frances Hughes says the Nurse Practitioner will provide a complementary health option for New Zealanders.

"Nurse practitioners advocate health promotion and disease prevention. They look beyond treating the ailment and consider non-medical intervention and encourage self care. They will also be able to diagnose health problems and even in some cases prescribe medication."

"They provide an innovative way of reaching communities through District Health Boards and meeting health needs across all sectors in a cost-effective way, " Ms Hughes says.

She says the nurse practitioner is not intended to replace other medical practitioners, but to complement their services.

"Nurses and doctors work in very different ways, but they will still need to work in partnership with other health professionals to ensure the best healthcare for their patients."

A framework to formally recognise Nurse Practitioners into New Zealand has been developed by the Nursing Council of New Zealand, in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

Ms Kilpatrick says Nurse Practitioners will have to meet strict standards and competences set by the Nursing Council before they can become Nurse Practitioners. This will mean consumers and health professionals can be confident Nurse Practitioners will provide safe, quality care.

"There have always been nurses who have chosen to specialise and develop expert skills. This new qualification just formalises that process and applies clear standards," says Ms Kilpatrick.

The council is awaiting applications from nurses for Nurse Practitioner status.

Nurse Practitioners already operate in several other countries and New Zealand's model is based on the best overseas examples.

A full copy of the Nurse Practitioner: Responding to Health Needs in New Zealand is available from


For further information: Ministry of Health Media Advisor Anne-Marie Robinson 04 496 2067

or Nursing Council of New Zealand Council Chair, Judy Kilpatrick 021 780 937

Chief Executive Officer, Marion Clark 021 650 869


What is a Nurse Practitioner? A Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse practising at an advanced practice level in a specific area, who has a Master's level education and has been recognised and approved by the Nursing Council as a Nurse Practitioner. They are recognised as expert health care providers.

What is the philosophy of Nurse Practitioners? Nurse Practitioners, while also being clinical specialists in their field, advocate health promotion and disease prevention. They look beyond treating the ailment and consider non-medical intervention and environmental issues.

Where will Nurse Practitioners work? A Nurse Practitioner can work in any environment where health care is provided. They can work independently or with health professionals in hospitals or the community. They can treat everyone from the acutely ill to healthy people of all ages and their families/whanau and will provide information to allow people to make informed decisions about their healthcare.

How does the Nurse Practitioner initiative work in with the Primary Healthcare Strategy? The Nurse Practitioner's population-based focus ties in well with the goals of the New Zealand Health Strategy, Primary Healthcare Strategy and Rural Health Strategy.

What about protection of title? We envisage the title of Nurse Practitioner will be protected under the proposed Health Professionals Competency Assurance Bill, just like the title of nurse which was protected under the Nurses Act 1977. The protection means it will be illegal for anyone to use the title 'Nurse Practitioner' unless they have the appropriate qualifications.

What about nurse prescribing? The Nurse Practitioner policy recognises that nurse prescribing is part of advanced practice. Some Nurse Practitioners may choose to seek prescribing rights if they have completed the appropriate education and training

How are the services of a Nurse Practitioner different from a general nurse? A Nurse Practitioner serves as a regular health care provider in a number of broad specialty areas including mental health, palliative care, sexual and reproductive health.

How is a Nurse Practitioner different from a doctor? A Nurse Practitioner will provide expertise that complements medical practitioners.

Why introduce Nurse Practitioner roles? The aim of the Nurse Practitioner role is to provide the highest level of nursing care and assistance in the delivery of healthcare and access to services, and to encourage our expert nurses to stay in clinical practice.

What are the benefits of Nurse Practitioners? Changing health needs have increased demand for the expert nurse who coordinates healthcare between health providers, bridging hospital and community care. They will provide cost-effective access to health services through encouraging self-care and looking at non-medical intervention. They will also assist consumers to manage their chronic illnesses and will span the boundaries between different services across health sectors.

How will introduction of this role aid clinical nursing retention? The Nurse Practitioner role will provide a new career pathway and improved employment opportunities for nurses with extensive clinical experience and education who might otherwise choose to leave the profession or work overseas. Nurses will have the satisfaction of choosing from a broad scope of areas to practice in.

How can a nurse become a Nurse Practitioner? Nurses who meet educational requirements and have four to five years clinical experience in their chosen area of speciality will apply to the Nursing Council of New Zealand for recognition as a nurse practitioner.

What are the educational requirements for a Nurse Practitioner? Specific nurse practitioner programmes at the level of a clinical masters degree

Do any other countries provide Nurse Practitioners? Yes, there are Nurse Practitioners in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Australia and Britain. In the United States they have provided care since 1965. The New Zealand model will be based on the best overseas examples.

What has the response been internationally to Nurse Practitioners? Nurse Practitioners have a proven record of providing excellent primary care in diverse settings. International studies show Nurse Practitioners provide the community with good quality, lower cost care that leads to high levels of patient satisfaction. Benefits to the health sector include lower healthcare costs, better management of chronic conditions and reduced secondary illnesses and hospital admissions.

Will there be a register of Nurse Practitioners? Yes, the Nursing Council will hold a public register of Nurse Practitioners. Nurse Practitioners, like all health specialists, will be subject to annual competency assessment and credentialling requirements.

Will this mean we have Nurse Practitioner clinics? Yes. New Zealand already has a number of nurse-led clinics involving the skills and expertise of nurses.

Why would patients choose a Nurse Practitioner? They would choose a Nurse Practitioner because nurse practitioners are health professionals who: - Provide individualised care focusing not only on health problems but also the effects the problem has on people and their families/whanau - Explain the details of health problems, medications and other topics to help people fully understand the best way to look after themselves and help them manage ongoing chronic illnesses and conditions better - Emphasise wellness and self-care by giving people the information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices and health care decisions.

Why is the Nurse Practitioner role being introduced now? We now have a health sector environment that makes it possible, as District Health Boards provide services across the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Nurse Practitioners provide an innovative new way of reaching communities and meeting health needs across all sectors as well as building on and complementing existing services. Nurses will be more effectively utilized.

Are nurses already performing a similar role to that of the Nurse Practitioner? Some of the `ingredients' that make up the nurse practitioner role already exist. All the requirements will now be formally regulated by the Nursing Council, which will ensure consistent safety and quality and provide consistent messages to the health sector.

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