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Keywords:

  • consortium;
  • distance learning;
  • education;
  • evaluation;
  • nurse practitioner

Consortium approach for nurse practitioner education

In 1995, a 10-university consortium approach to deliver a post-baccalaureate primary care nurse practitioner programme funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health was launched throughout Ontario, Canada. A combination of traditional and distance teaching methods, in English and French, were used. A 5-year research project was initiated to evaluate the entire programme, the effect of nurse practitioners on patient and health-care system outcomes and examine practice patterns. Participants included deans and directors (n=10), regional co-ordinators (n=5) and course developers, some of whom were also course professors (n=8). This article is a report of the evaluation of the consortium programme after the first year from the perspective of groups involved in implementation and delivery. Results of qualitative analyses of participant perceptions from researcher-led focus groups and asynchronous electronic interviews provided the framework for the evaluation, and revealed the rationale for the consortium method, strengths, limitations and recommendations. Sharing ideas, resources and delivery and increased student access in remote areas were perceived as positive outcomes. Limitations included the short time period to develop programme content, identify and plan for distance education resources, and too little communication between universities and students. Researchers concluded that the consortium approach was effective for nurse practitioner education. Key factors identified for programme planning were communication, resources, curriculum and workload. Included among the recommendations was to allow sufficient time for role and course development before beginning a similar programme.