ABSTRACT: The role of the nurse practitioner has been described as the apex of nursing practice. Such a statement has significant implications for the professional status of nursing in its own right. The aim of this paper is to discuss the nature of the nurse practitioner role in Australia and the importance of distinguishing between advanced and expanded practice. Evaluations of the nurse practitioner role suggest that specifically nursing contributions lead to a high level of consumer satisfaction. If nursing in general, and mental health nursing in particular, is to maintain and further develop their professional status, debate about the implications of the nurse practitioner role, and the terminology used to describe its scope, is crucial.