Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are highly-trained (Masters Level) registered nurses who are qualified to work autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced practice clinical role. Their skills include assessing and managing patients, referring patients to other health care professionals, prescribing medications and ordering diagnostic investigations.
NPs provide innovative and flexible health care that complements that provided by other health care professionals. Only nurses endorsed by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as a Nurse Practitioner can use the title.
Fiona McLeod NP Palliative Care Eastern Health
The role of the NP aligns with the NP standards for practice set by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia:
- STANDARD 1: Assesses using diagnostic capability
- STANDARD 2: Plans care and engages others
- STANDARD 3: Prescribes and implements therapeutic interventions
- STANDARD 4: Evaluates outcomes and improves practice
The NMBA also stipulates that those seeking endorsement as Nurse Practitioners are expected to have completed three years’ advanced practice in their specific area of practice. There is also an expectation that the Nurse Practitioner will only practise in that specific area of practice and in accordance with the Safety and Quality Framework (SQF) included in the guidelines on endorsement as a nurse practitioner.
Nurse Practitioner Candidates
A Nurse Practitioner Candidate (NPC) is a registered nurse engaged by a service/organisation as they work toward meeting the academic and clinical requirements for endorsement as a NP. The period of candidacy is flexible. Medical and senior nursing mentorship is essential for the development of the skills and competencies needed to meet the requirements of the NMBA.
Master of Advanced Nursing Practice (Nurse Practitioner) students
Master of Nurse Practitioner students must comply with several criteria before they can commence study.
These criteria are:
- Current registration as a registered nurse (RN)
- Minimum of two years FTE as an RN in a specialty field
- Additional two years FTE of advanced nursing practice in the same specialty
- Post Grad qualification at AQF Level 8 (Graduate Diploma) in a clinical field
- To have negotiated and secured integrated professional practice and a support team. This team is to be assessed as satisfactory prior to the commencement and for the duration of the program).
The student must also complete a minimum of 300 hours of supernumerary integrated professional practice during the course of their study period.
Approved Masters of Nurse Practitioner Programs
To comply with AHPRA endorsement requirements NPs must be able to demonstrate the following:
1. Current general registration as a registered nurse in Australia with no conditions or undertakings relating to unsatisfactory professional performance or unprofessional conduct.
2. The equivalent of three years’ full-time experience (5,000 hours) at the clinical advanced nursing practice level, within the past six years, from the date when the complete application seeking endorsement as a nurse practitioner is received by AHPRA.
3. Successful completion of:
- an NMBA-approved program of study leading to endorsement as a nurse practitioner, or
- a program that is substantially equivalent to an NMBA-approved program of study leading to endorsement as a nurse practitioner as determined by the NMBA.
4. Compliance with the NMBA’s Nurse practitioner standards for practice
There are several Masters of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) courses in Australia, including the following courses at Victorian universities:
The following Victorian regional and metropolitan healthcare services currently support palliative care NPs and/or Candidates:
- Bolton Clarke (Not all Regions)
- Eastern Health
- Eastern Palliative Care
- Monash Health
- Northern Health
- Palliative Care South East
- Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre
- St Vincent’s Hospital
- Albury Wodonga Health
- Ballarat Health
- Barwon Health
- Bendigo Health
- Gippsland Lakes Community Health
- Kooweerup Regional Health Service
- Latrobe Community Health
- Latrobe Regional Health
- West Gippsland Healthcare Group
Click here for a map of Victoria indicating the location of Nurse Practitioners (black marker) and Nurse Practitioner Candidates (green marker). As at November 2018, there were 25 Palliative Care Nurse Practitioners and seven Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner Candidates.