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Public Health Nursing

The Scope of Private Practice Nursingin an Australian Sample


  • Anne Wilson Ph.D., R.N.,

    Corresponding author
      Anne Wilson, 20 Penzance Street, Glenelg, South Australia 5045. E-mail:
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  • Andrea Averis R.N., Ph.D.,

  • Ken Walsh R.N., Ph.D.

  • Anne Wilson is Postdoctoral Fellow, The Department of General Practice, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Andrea Averis is Outcome Co-ordinator, Benchmark Healthcare, Wakefield Hospital, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Ken Walsh is Professor of Nursing, Health Waikato, Waikato Hospital, Hamilton, New Zealand.

  • The dollar amounts quoted on fees charged by participants are in Australian dollars.

  • Contents of this paper were presented at the 2nd ICN International Nurse Practitioner Advanced Practice Nursing Network Conference, Adelaide, South Australia, November 2002, Making the Future: Practice, Policy and Partnerships.

Anne Wilson, 20 Penzance Street, Glenelg, South Australia 5045. E-mail:


Abstract  The changing Australian health care system is creating new opportunities for nurses who work directly with clients in private practice settings. This study examines the scope of practice of a cohort of nurses in private practice. In a questionnaire sent to 106 self-employed nurse entrepreneurs, questions were asked pertaining to the participants' scope of practice, their clients, the types of services offered, and their fee structures. Questions about scope of practice were divided into domains of clinical practice, business consultancy, education, and research. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected for a final sample 54 eligible responses. Participants had been in private practice for an average of 7.6 years (range: 1–20) and reported a mean of 21 years of nursing experience (range: 4–42) before entering private practice. Over half held diplomas in speciality areas. Most participants reported clinical practice, consultancy, or education as the primary work domain; research was much less important as a work activity. Nurses reported difficulties with building client base and receiving adequate fees for service, particularly in clinical practice. Increasing awareness within the nursing profession and health sector about various aspects of private practice nursing could improve service quality for their clients.

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