Thinking of Becoming A Nurse Practitioner?
Published on the 21 June 2016
Published on the 21 June 2016
A Nurse Practitioner is a Registered Nurse who has undertaken a Master’s level degree either in a specialty area or a Master of Nurse Practitioner program. Nurse Practitioners have an expanded scope of practice that includes advanced clinical assessment, ordering and interpretation of investigations, diagnosis (including differential diagnosis), implementation of treatment modalities including pharmacological and collaboration with all members of the health care team. Inherent in this expanded scope, is a nursing framework. The Nurse Practitioner remains embedded in nursing theory, values and knowledge, and provides unique care that compliments and collaborates with all members of the health care team (1).
Nurse Practitioners are not new. The profession originated in the United States in 1965, but Australia took some time to adopt it as a nursing specialty. Preliminary work occurred throughout the 1990’s, and the first Nurse Practitioners were endorsed in Australia in 2000 (2). The profession was further strengthened and recognised in 2010 when Nurse Practitioners were given access to Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (3). In December 2015, there were 1319 Nurse Practitioners in Australia and this number is growing (4). Nurse Practitioners can be found in all pockets of Australia in a multitude of specialties including but not limited to, Emergency, Women’s Health, Paediatrics, Palliative Care, Aged Care and Drug and Alcohol services.
Maybe you have a clinical specialty area that you wish to expand and develop. Perhaps you have a great business idea that includes private practice. Or perhaps you were like me, caught at a ‘next step’ career development cross road with the knowledge that clinical care was my great passion. Whatever your reasons may be, becoming a Nurse Practitioner is a rich and rewarding career pathway that allows you to provide advanced patient care and generate real change in people’s lives.
If you are interested in becoming a Nurse Practitioner my best advise would be to find one, and talk to them. See if the job fits with your expectations and beliefs. Find out if there is a need for a Nurse Practitioner in your specialty area. Research the study commitment (most Masters programs are two years) and importantly, see if your workplace is supportive and happy to mentor you through your Candidacy. Workplace support and understanding is essential, as it will ensure you have a role once you have finished and are endorsed.
Personally, I have not looked back. Both of my jobs where I work as a Nurse Practitioner are fulfilling, dynamic and professionally and personally enriching. I have been able to make real changes in people’s lives across all spectrums of their health journey. I would recommend to anyone who has a strong interest in a specialty and wishes to advance his or her career in a clinical direction, to explore becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
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Simone O'Brien is a Rural and Remote Nurse Practitioner who works in a small rural health service in Central Victoria that never knows what is going to walk through the door. She also works as a midwife and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner at a large regional hospital in Central Victoria. Simone was instrumental in setting up a NP outreach model of care for a rural health service that goes beyond age and chronic illness and delivers at home advanced health care to the most marginalised and isolated in the community. She is currently a member of the national expert advisory group for the CRANA rural nursing project. Prior to this, Simone has spent many years working in rural health across the life spectrum; she was a forensic nurse examiner for the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine and worked closely with victims of sexual assault, a pap nurse provider, a rural nurse educator, a midwife, and an occasional lecturer at LaTrobe University. Simone's most recent work includes NP locum stints across rural Victoria and business development of a model that provides NP services to aged care facilities and also onsite NP mentoring to RIPERNs, RNs, and ENs.