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Keywords:

  • nursing;
  • emergency;
  • nurse practitioner;
  • evaluation;
  • role;
  • research;
  • rural health care

An evaluation of the nurse practitioner role in a major rural emergency department

The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate whether nurse practitioners are able to provide a level of primary health service applicable to remote/isolated settings in wound management and treatment of blunt limb trauma. It was hypothesized that there would be no significant difference in the quality of care, or the level of client satisfaction, provided by the medical officers and the nurse practitioners in the study. Two groups participated in the study, nurse practitioners and medical officers. The study used a randomized trial design. Data were collected using quantitative and qualitative methods. Two hundred and thirty-two clients participated in the study. Of this number 63 were supervized cases in the pilot trial. In the randomized trial participants were distributed between nurse practitioners and medical officers (n = 169), of which 91 were randomized to medical officers and 78 to nurse practitioners. Telephone interviews were conducted to evaluate client satisfaction. The majority of study participants were surveyed for client satisfaction (n = 132). This represents approximately 78% of the randomized sample and multivariate analysis was carried out on the data. Study results indicate that there were no significant differences between the two groups in relation to client satisfaction. Very positive outcomes of treatment were consistent across groups in the study. The study also found that there was strong support for the role of the nurse practitioner in the rural emergency setting. Recommendations include further research to measure the efficacy of nurse practitioners utilizing the selected competencies in remote/isolated settings.