Decision on nurse practitioner scope of practice and further consultation 2015

04 November 2015

Following extensive consultation the Nursing Council has confirmed it will make changes to the nurse practitioner scope of practice and education programmes that prepare nurse practitioners to meet future health needs of New Zealanders.  These changes will not come into effect until the Council has completed a further consultation on new education programme standards and competencies for nurse practitioners.  

The scope of practice has been broadened and the requirement to restrict nurse practitioners to a specific area of practice has been removed.  This model has been safely implemented in Australia.  Nurse practitioners as advanced clinicians will be expected to self-regulate and practice within their area of competence and experience.  Nurse practitioners in New Zealand have demonstrated safe advanced practice since they were first regulated in 2001. 

The Council believes that these changes will allow greater flexibility and utility for nurse practitioners to meet future health needs of New Zealanders, including rural and other underserved and diverse and aging populations.  The revised scope of practice also makes the role and contribution of nurse practitioners clearer to employers and the public, and differentiates the nurse practitioner from advanced registered nurse roles.

The Council has also decided to refocus the education programmes to prepare nurse practitioners.  These programmes will have more specific programme outcomes and include 300 hours of protected clinical learning time.  These changes will lead to greater consistency and breadth in nurse practitioner preparation and improve readiness for registration on completion of the programme. 

Second consultation and invitation for submissions

 The Council is now consulting on:

  • Draft education programme standards that would allow greater consistency between programmes preparing nurse practitioners and give the Council confidence to register nurse practitioner candidates based on assessments of clinical competence within the programmes. 
  • Ways of ensuring a consistent standard of candidate assessment between programmes e.g. external moderation, involvement of clinical experts.
  • Whether nurse practitioner candidates should continue to submit a portfolio to Council to demonstrate clinical competence when applying for registration.
  • New competencies for nurse practitioners that are more integrated and concise and reflect the new scope statement.  The draft competencies have been refocused on advanced clinical skills and leadership and prescribing has been integrated within the competencies.  
  • Requiring a year of supervision to support the development of newly registered nurse practitioners.

The second consultation document and survey to make submissions can be found here.

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