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Keywords:

  • census;
  • nurse practitioner;
  • workforce planning

Middleton S, Gardner G, Gardner A, Della P, Gibb M, Millar L. International Journal of Nursing Practice 2010; 16: 517–524 The first Australian nurse practitioner census: A protocol to guide standardized collection of information about an emergent professional group

Internationally, collection of reliable data on new and evolving health-care roles is crucial. We describe a protocol for design and administration of a national census of an emergent health-care role, namely nurse practitioners in Australia using databases held by regulatory authorities. A questionnaire was developed to obtain data on the role and scope of practice of Australian nurse practitioners. Our tool comprised five sections and included a total of 56 questions, using 28existing items from the National Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force Census and nine items recommended in the Nurse Practitioner Workforce Planning Minimum Data Set. Australian Nurse Registering Authorities (n = 6) distributed the survey on our behalf. This paper outlines our instrument and methods. The survey was administered to 238 authorized Australian nurse practitioners (85% response rate). Rigorous collection of standardized items will ensure health policy is informed by reliable and valid data. We will re-administer the survey 2 years following the first survey to measure change over time.