Medical acceptance of the nurse practitioner role in Australia: A decade on

Authors

  • Lorna MacLellan RN, MN, MNP,

    (Senior Lecturer), Corresponding author
    1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus, NSW, Australia
    • Correspondence Lorna MacLellan, RN, MN, MNP, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus, PO Box 127, Ourimbah, NSW 2258, Australia. Tel: (+61) 24349 4536; Fax: (+61) 24349 4538; E-mail: lorna.maclellan@newcastle.edu.au

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  • Isabel Higgins RN, PhD, MN,

    (Professor)
    1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus, NSW, Australia
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  • Tracy Levett-Jones PhD, RN, MEd, BN, DipAppSc (Nursing)

    (Professor)
    1. School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus, NSW, Australia
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Abstract

Purpose

In Australia, nurse practitioners (NPs) were first endorsed in 2000. After more than a decade, the number of NPs remains relatively small with previous research suggesting medical resistance as a key reason for this. This article presents a selection of narratives from a study that explored the transition experiences of newly endorsed NPs with particular attention to relationships with their medical colleagues.

Data sources

A critical ethnographic approach was undertaken to explore the experiences of 10 Australian NPs who were interviewed three to four times for up to an hour throughout their first year of practice.

Conclusions

Participants’ narratives provide insight into their transition to practice and the barriers and facilitators to their new role. In contrast to previous research, medical colleagues were generally supportive and collegial while resistance was demonstrated most often by senior nurses yielding positions of power.

Implications for practice

This study provides insight into the influences that key health professionals have over the transition of NPs. Despite the fact there are still negative attitudes being expressed by some medical associations, in this study medical colleagues were largely supportive of the NP role and that integral to the development of these interprofessional relationships was mutual respect and effective communication.

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