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Keywords:

  • perioperative;
  • advanced nursing practice;
  • nurse practitioner;
  • RN first assistant;
  • extended practice;
  • expanded practice

The current scope and future direction of perioperative nursing practice in Victoria, Australia

Unlike some overseas countries, perioperative nursing roles in Australia are largely undeveloped, and very little research has explored the opinions of perioperative nurses regarding the development of their specialty. This study was undertaken to identify the current scope, possible future directions, and the barriers to developing perioperative nursing practice in the state of Victoria (Australia). The study design was descriptive and utilized survey methodology. An instrument was constructed by the researcher for the specific purposes of the study, and comprised three stages of development: questionnaire development; validation by a panel of experts; and a pilot study. The questionnaire was sent randomly to selected perioperative nurses (n=224) and a response rate of 79% (n=176) was obtained. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). Descriptive statistics were used to summarize data, and independent sample t-tests, one-way ANOVA and Wilcoxon signed rank tests were used to test differences between groups. For the purpose of data reduction factor analysis was undertaken. The findings of the study indicated that the perioperative nursing model in its espoused form is not being practised, but a large majority of participants believe that perioperative nursing practice should not be restricted to the intraoperative phase of the perioperative model. Expanded rather than extended activities and functions were perceived as more important for development of the specialty, and perceived barriers to advanced perioperative nursing practice centred predominantly on the current application of the perioperative model. Recommendations include refinement of the perioperative nursing model to reflect changes in the delivery of healthcare, addressing issues of cost associated with further education, and undertaking interpretive research to provide more detailed information on the possible future direction for perioperative nursing.