• Mental health;
  • nurse practitioners;
  • nurse prescribing;
  • professional education

PURPOSE. The medical profession in Australia has expressed concern about the expansion of nursing practice into areas that are traditionally the domain of medicine. Particular apprehension is raised in relation to the prescription of medications. This paper will consider and critique the argument that the standard of care provided by a nurse practitioner would be of lesser quality than that provided by a medical practitioner.

CONCLUSIONS. Despite the medical profession's opposition for nurse practitioner roles, there is little evidence suggesting that the quality of services offered by a nurse practitioner would be inferior.

PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS. Available evidence suggests that care and treatment from nurse practitioners in primary health care is equal to that provided by medical practitioners.