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Information about Nurse Practitioners



What is a Nurse Practitioner (NP)?

The Nurse Practitioner role provides a new level of service to our community. It is designed to provide timely access to healthcare for all Australians.

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a Registered Nurse who has completed both advanced university study at a Masters Degree level and extensive clinical training to expand upon the traditional role of a Registered Nurse. They use extended skills, knowledge and experience in the assessment, planning, implementation, diagnosis and evaluation of care required.

Through their training and expertise Nurse Practitioners are able to autonomously perform advanced physical assessment, order diagnostic tests, interpret the results of these tests, initiate referrals to relevant healthcare providers, and prescribe appropriate medications and other therapies as needed.
The expanded role of the NP is clearly defined by the scope or specialty area in which the NP practices.

Nurse Practitioners work as key members of the healthcare team and collaborate with other nurses and healthcare professionals including GPs, medical and surgical specialists, physiotherapists, dieticians, occupational therapists, social workers, and many others. They work in a variety of locations, both in hospital and community settings.

This innovative role aims to:

  • Improve access to treatment
  • Provide cost-effective care
  • Target at-risk populations
  • Provide outreach services in rural and remote communities
  • Provide mentorship and clinical expertise to other health professionals.

The Nurse Practitioner title can only be used by a person who has been endorsed by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

Although the role is relatively new to healthcare in Australia, Nurse Practitioners have provided healthcare in other countries like the United States since the 1960s. The first 2 Nurse Practitioners in Australia were authorized in New South Wales in 2000.  For further information, visit our history page.

Research into the Profession

So what are researchers and the public saying about Nurse Practitioners nationally and internationally?  

There is a large and growing body of evidence to demonstrate that Nurse Practitioners provide safe, equitable and effective care.  Reassuringly, organisations such as the ACT Health Care Consumer's Association have worked extensively with the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute and found that consumers are more than happy to have care provided for them by a Nurse Practitioner.  This report can be found below.

Summaries of international and national research, as well as relevant journal articles written about Nurse Practitioners, are available below.  In addition, please feel free to browse our history, which has links to a great deal of the initial research about Nurse Practitioners in Australia built into it!

© 2017 Australian College of Nurse Practitioners. All rights reserved.