A nurse practitioner is a registered nurse who has undertaken a master’s level degree and is authorised by the relevant regulatory body to function autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced and extended clinical role.
The nurse practitioner role includes assessment and management of clients using nursing knowledge and skills and may include, but is not limited to, the direct referral of patients to other health care professionals, prescribing medications and ordering diagnostic investigations.
Contrary to what some may think – Nurse Practitioners are NOT Doctors! As the Health Industry has evolved over many decades, new and innovative roles in allied health, care assistance and specialist services have emerged. Put quite simply, the Nurse Practitioner role creates another tier of ‘Nurse’ which incorporates a much greater clinical scope and responsibility. The Medical Profession remains the pinnacle of Health care and treatment for chronic health and advanced clinical opinion, whilst nurse practitioners can use their experience, advanced training and skills to reach the more common problems faced by their patients.
The nurse practitioner role is grounded in the nursing profession’s values, knowledge, theories and practice and provides innovative and flexible health care delivery that complements other health care providers. The scope of practice of the nurse practitioner is determined by the context in which the nurse practitioner is authorised to practise (Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council, 2006).