This is the author-version of article published as:
Gardner, G and Carryer, J and Gardner, A and Dunn, S (2006)
Nurse Practitioner competency standards: findings from
collaborative Australian and New Zealand research. International
Journal of Nursing Studies 43(5):pp. 601-610.
Accessed from http://eprints.qut.edu.au
Copyright 2006 Elsevier
Title: Nurse Practitioner competency standards: findings from collaborative
Australian and New Zealand research
Authors: * Glenn Gardner RN, PhD FRCNA
Professor of Clinical Nursing
Queensland University of Technology and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital
Jenny Carrier RN, PhD FCNA(NZ) MNZM
Professor of Nursing
Massey University and Mid Central District Health Board
Anne Gardner RN, PhD MRCNA
Associate Professor in Nursing
Deakin University and Cabrini Health
Sandra Dunn RN, PhD FRCNA
Professor of Clinical Nursing Practice
Flinders University and Flinders Medical Centre
Contact Author: * Professor Glenn Gardner
School of Nursing
Queensland University of Technology
Victoria Park Road
Kelvin Grove, Queensland 4059
Phone: +61 7 3636 5395
Fax: +61 7 3636 1557
This project was sponsored by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council and the
Nursing Council New Zealand. We also wish to acknowledge the contribution of the nurse
practitioners and the nurse practitioner course coordinators in Australia and New Zealand
who all generously gave of their time to participate in the study.
Background: The title, Nurse Practitioner, is protected in most jurisdictions in Australia
and in New Zealand and the number of nurse practitioners is increasing in health services in
both countries. Despite this expansion of the role there is scant national or international
research to inform development of nurse practitioner competency standards.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to research nurse practitioner practice to inform
development of generic standards that could be applied for the education, authorisation and
practice of nurse practitioners in both countries.
Design: The research used a multi-methods approach to capture a range of data sources
including research of policies and curricula, and interviews with clinicians. Data were
collected from relevant sources in Australia and New Zealand
Settings: The research was conducted in New Zealand and the five states and territories in
Australia where, at the time of the research, the title of nurse practitioner was legally
Participants: The research was conducted with a purposeful sample of nurse practitioners
from diverse clinical settings in both countries. Interview and material data were collected
from a range of sources and data were analysed within and across these data modalities.
Results: Findings included identification of three generic standards for nurse practitioner
practice namely, Dynamic Practice, Professional Efficacy and Clinical Leadership. Each of
these standards has a number of practice competencies, each of these competencies with
their own performance indicators.
Conclusions: Generic Standards for nurse practitioner practice will support a standardised
approach and mutual recognition of nurse practitioner authorisation across the two
countries. Additionally these research outcomes can more generally inform education
providers, authorising bodies and clinicians on the standards of practice for the nurse
practitioner whilst also contributing to the current international debate on nurse practitioner
standards and scope of practice.
Key words; Nurse practitioner, capability, practice competencies, practice standards
What this paper adds
What is already known on this topic?
• • Development of the nurse practitioner role around the world has been dogged by
inconsistency in terms of role definition.
• • There is no evidence in the literature of the development of research-informed
competency standards for the nurse practitioner.
• • The literature on practice competencies is scant with most of the information being
related to competencies for advanced practice or clinical nurse specialist roles and
few of these are informed by empirical research.
What do we now know as a result of this study?
• • The competency framework that defines the expectations of nurse practitioner
practice is structured across three generic Standards namely, Dynamic Practice,
Professional Efficacy and Clinical Leadership.
• • In addition to this competency framework, nurse practitioner practice must
accommodate a wide range of practice environments, deal with complexity and non-
linear reasoning in health-care and draw upon creative and non-standard solutions to
achieve optimal outcomes for the client.
• • Nurse Practitioner Standards also need to be informed by an approach to evaluation
of the clinician that can accommodate the above characteristics. A useful model to
achieve this orientation is that related to the notion of capability
In Australia, responsibility for nurse regulation resides with the nursing regulatory authority
in each, of the eight states or territories. Across Australian states and territories there are over
30 separate Acts related to the regulation of nursing practice, for example, Nurses Acts,
Controlled Substances Acts, Mental Health Acts and Public Health Acts. The Australian
Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC [at the time of the research the Council was titled
the Australian Nursing Council]) is the peak national organisation through which the
Australian states and territories formally negotiate consistent national standards for the
regulation of nursing practice.
In New Zealand there is a single nursing regulatory authority, the Nursing Council of New
Zealand, with responsibility for national regulation of nursing practice. The powers and
duties of the Nursing Council New Zealand are similar to those of the Australian state and
territory nursing regulatory authorities, but at a national level. Functioning of the Nursing
Council New Zealand and national nursing policy development in New Zealand is facilitated
by a national approach to nursing regulation.
In Australia and New Zealand the nurse practitioner is a new and unique level of health-care
provider. Development of the nurse practitioner role has been driven in part by the health-
care reform agenda. As described by the ANMC and Nursing Council New Zealand, the
shifting boundaries caused by health-care reform have created impetus for development of
new models of health-care, but have also created some uncertainty regarding the boundaries,
models of care and rights and responsibilities of nurse practitioners. The title, nurse
practitioner, is now protected in most Australian states and in New Zealand with its role
benefiting from significant development over a relatively short period of time. However the
role is still evolving in both countries.
The Trans Tasman Mutual Recognition Act 1977, as its title implies, includes the
requirement that registration in Australia and New Zealand be mutually recognisable. In
February 2002 the ANMC and Nursing Council New Zealand formally committed to
collaborative development of the nurse practitioner role under a Memorandum of
Cooperation. This research was conducted to develop standards for nurse practitioner
practice and education. The study was commissioned jointly by the two organizations and is a
result of this Memorandum of Cooperation. This paper will report on these research findings.
Numerous papers have been published in health-care journals on the topic of nurse
practitioners but there is scant published research relating to nurse practitioner competencies.
To investigate this topic the research team conducted a specific review of the literature. The
keywords used for the search included: nurse practitioner, advanced practice nurse, scope of
practice, nursing role, competency standards. The electronic data bases explored included
CINAHL, Medline, PubMed and HighRisk. No hand search was undertaken as nurse
practitioner literature was distributed widely in the nursing and related health literature. The
reference lists of papers were scanned manually to find other literature not identified in the
electronic search. The main search was limited to the past six years of publication (Jan 1999–
Dec 2004 inclusive).
Development and progress of the role
Nurse practitioners have had a presence in health-care delivery in some countries since the
1960s, more recently emerging in Australia and New Zealand. There is considerable
international literature to support the introduction of a nurse practitioner level of service with
studies demonstrating that the nurse practitioner delivers health-care that is valued by the
patient, (Kinnersley et al., 2000; Venning et al., 2000) and has a positive effect on patient
outcomes (Brown and Grimes, 1995; Sakr et al. 1999; Gardner, A and Gardner, 2005). A
systematic review of nurse practitioner service in primary care demonstrated that nurse
practitioners provide care equivalent to doctors at first point of contact with patients
(Horrocks et al. 2002). Furthermore, the review indicated that patients were more satisfied
with care by a nurse practitioner and that the care was of a high quality. Whilst we propose
that the benchmark of medical care does not by definition indicate quality, the research is a
useful addition to other, patient-focused outcome indicators. It also appeared that better use of
nurse practitioners could improve primary health-care access (Donald and McCurdy, 2002).
Despite these positive findings, the development of nurse practitioner services around the
world has been dogged by inconsistency in terms of role definition, level of legislative
control and funding issues (Pearson and Peels, 2002).
In Australia and New Zealand anticipation about the promise of nurse practitioner practice
has arisen in part from the sets of statements, sometimes called competency statements or
competency standards, about advanced practice. These statements have been developed by
professional and regulatory organisations (Australian Nursing Federation, 1997; Nursing
Council of New Zealand, 2001; Royal College of Nursing Australia, 2000) and are similar to
some used overseas (American Nurses Association, 2002; Carroll, 2002).
Nurse Practitioner Competencies
Historically, competency assessment has applied to manual work where academic learning
and intelligence testing were not relevant to occupation performance (Winter and Maisch,
1996). They became important in the vocational education sector in the early nineties in
Australia through a drive to formulate measurable industry standards for work practices
(Keating, 1994). This subsequently influenced the adoption of this approach in Australia by
nursing (Sutton and Arbon, 1994) as well as other professions. Competency benchmarks are
used in Australia for nursing undergraduate education and regulation through the ANMC
competencies. In the same way, Nursing Council New Zealand competencies are used for
undergraduate nurse education and advanced and specialist competencies are used for
postgraduate programs. In the UK competency training and assessment is integral to
undergraduate nurse education (UKCC, 1999) where formal assessment of clinical
competency has replaced the previous episodic task assessment and the more recent
continuous clinical assessment (Watkins, 2000) approaches.
In a systematic review of clinical competence assessment Watson and colleagues (2002)
concluded that there was almost universal acceptance of the need for assessment of clinical
nursing competence but that reliability and validity of assessment methods remain vexed and
could not be found in the published literature. Assessment of clinical competence was
identified as a particular issue when trying to distinguish between different levels of
competence (Girot, 2000). Nonetheless, without a superior alternative, regulatory authorities
are looking to demonstrate safe standards for nurse practitioner practice by use of
In relation to nurse practitioner standards there is no evidence in the literature of the
development of research-informed competency standards. The literature on competency for
this level of clinical practice is scant with most of the competency information being related
to advanced practice competencies or clinical nurse specialist competencies. The research
outcomes reported in this paper therefore provide an essential basis for application,
discussion and advancement of generic nurse practitioner competency standards.
In addition to the international relevance of this study, in Australasia mutually agreed
competency standards will ensure that there is a consistency in the preparation and
authorisation of nurse practitioners. Given the longstanding mutual recognition agreements
between Australian states and territories and between Australia and New Zealand, this
research has the potential to standardise nurse practitioner education and practice between
these jurisdictions and to inform the international movement in standardisation of the nurse
The competencies reported in this paper were developed from a research project that was
commissioned by the ANMC and Nursing Council New Zealand. The primary aim of the
project was to develop national/trans-Tasman competency standards for the recognition and
education of nurse practitioners in Australia and New Zealand. It is beyond the scope of this
paper to fully report the analytical and interpretive processes that describe the research
findings. The reader is directed to the ANMC report (Gardner et al 2004) for details of the
research results. However in order to contextualise the competencies that are reported here as
research outcomes, we will briefly describe the research process that was used for the study.
The methodology for this study needed to draw upon data relating to current practices,
established processes across a range of jurisdictions, documentary evidence, unpublished
literature and the experiential aspects of the nurse practitioner level of service in different
geographical and clinical contexts of practice. Accordingly, the research design incorporated
a multi-methods approach. A range of data collection tools was developed and a variety of
data sources was used. This incorporated research of policies and curricula, and survey and
interviews with academics and clinicians. Data were collected from relevant sources in New
Zealand and the five states and territories in Australia where, at the time of the research, the
title of nurse practitioner was legally protected. The data relating to the development of a
competency framework was primarily drawn from in-depth interviews with authorised and
practising nurse practitioners and published and grey literature related to nurse practitioner
The in-depth interviews with nurse practitioners were conducted to gain information on the
practice experiences of nurse practitioner work. This included a report of a de-identified case
study that represented for that participant an exemplar of nurse practitioner service. The
interview focused on the clinical and experiential dimensions of management for the
patient/client in the case study. These interviews were audio recorded and transcribed to
produce text data. These data were analysed to gain understanding of the core role of the
nurse practitioner as perceived and reported by these clinicians, and included both deductive
and inductive methods. An inductive process was used to order the data according to
recognised patterns within each interview then these data were aggregated across the data set
according to identified storylines. The storylines were then collated into several conceptual
categories. The text data was further reviewed to identify textual samples that best captured
the storylines in the analytical framework.
Relevant university ethical approval for the study was secured. Informed consent was
obtained from all interviewee participants. As far as possible, the identity of individuals who
participated in the study has been protected.
The objective of this research was to develop core standards that could inform nurse
practitioner competencies for education and practice. The first step in developing these
standards was to draw upon the research findings to describe the core role of the nurse
practitioner, the characteristics of this core role establish the thread that continues through to
define the generic standards and practice competencies.
The findings indicate that the core role of nurse practitioner practice is characterised by three
areas of practice, each of these three areas has several components that define the practice
characteristics (Figure 1).
Com ponents of Dynam ic Practice
Clinical knowledge and skills
Practice in com plex environm ents
Currency of clinical knowledge
Dynam ic Practice
Com ponents of Professional Efficacy
A nursing m odel of extended practice
Partnerships and cultural awareness
Autonom ous and accountable practice
Com ponents of Clinical Leadership
Critique and influence at system s level of health-care
Figure 1 Core role of the Nurse Practitioner
Practice is dynamic in that it involves the application of high-level clinical knowledge and
skills in a wide range of contexts. The nurse practitioner in the role demonstrates professional
efficacy enhanced by an extended range of autonomy, including legislated privileges. The
nurse practitioner is a clinical leader with a readiness and an obligation to advocate for their
client base and their profession at the systems level of health-care. This combination of
practice areas and defining characteristics that make up the core role of the nurse practitioner
provides a strong, research-based platform for development of standards and competencies
for nurse practitioner practice.
An additional finding from this research was the recognition that the practice of the nurse
practitioner is qualitatively different from that of other roles and levels of nursing. Generic
Standards for nurse practitioner practice in Australia and New Zealand must accommodate
practice environments that range from highly technical care in large tertiary facilities to sole
clinicians who practice in isolated and remote settings. They must deal with complexity and
non-linear reasoning in health-care and draw upon creative and non-standard solutions to
achieve optimal outcomes for the client.
Our conclusion from analysis of our research data and the literature is that in addition to a
competency framework, Nurse Practitioner Standards also need to be informed by an
approach to evaluation of the clinician that can accommodate these characteristics. A useful
model to achieve this orientation is that related to the notion of capability (Stephenson and
Weil, 1992; Hase and Kenyon, 2000). According to Hase (2000) capable people are more
likely to be able to deal effectively with the turbulent environment in which they live (or
work) by possessing an all-round capacity to deal with continual change. Cairns (1997)
defined capability as ‘having justified confidence in your ability to take appropriate and
effective action to formulate and solve problems in both familiar and unfamiliar and
Hence, the competency framework that follows outlines the knowledge, skills and attitudes
of nurse practitioner practice that is located at the extended level of nursing service and also
sets a standard for capability attributes. Many of the competencies are measurable and all are
Nurse Practitioner Standards
The practice areas presented in Figure 1 readily translate to core standards and the
components of the three practice areas contribute to development of competencies for these
standards. A major strength in the reliability of these standards and their competencies is that
they were developed from a range of data sources. Initially the standards were developed
from the components in the core role and then supported and refined through information
from the literature and other data sources (for example, NSW Health Department, 1995;
Read, 2001; ACT Government, 2002)
The assumptions informing the development and use of this competency framework are as
1. The nurse practitioner is a registered nurse whose practice must first meet the following
regulatory and professional requirements for Australia and New Zealand and then
demonstrate the additional requirements of the nurse practitioner:
• • National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse
• • Code of Ethics for Nurses
• • Code of Professional Conduct for Nurses.
These assumed requirements serve as the foundation for the nurse practitioner competency
framework and are not repeated in the framework.
2. The Nurse Practitioner Standards build upon the extant advanced practice competency
standards that are used in Australia and those used in New Zealand. These founding standards
are not repeated in the nurse practitioner framework.
3. The Nurse Practitioner Standards are core standards that are common to all models of
nurse practitioner practice. They can accommodate specialty competencies that are designed
to meet the unique health-care needs of specific client/patient populations.
Nurse Practitioner Competency Framework
The competency framework has three Standards, each Standard has a number of
competencies and each competency has a list of measurable or demonstrable performance
indicators. These standards and the competency framework provide a clear, meaningful and
logical foundation to inform nurse practitioner practice, regulation and education.
Dynamic practice that incorporates application of high-level knowledge and skills in
extended practice across stable, unpredictable and complex situations.
This standard sets an expectation that the nurse practitioner draws upon specialist expertise for
practice in a range of contexts and demonstrates a readiness to maintain and update this clinical
expertise. Whilst the standards and competencies are generic, the four competencies that define
the expected skills and knowledge for Standard 1 can also potentially provide a framework for
specialty practice. That is, the indicators for the competencies in this standard can be reframed
from generic to specialist language to specify the skill and knowledge attributes that define a
specific extended specialist practice. These findings support work conducted on Accident and
Emergency nurse practitioner curricula (Orzel, 1998). In the absence of national practice
standards Orzel synthesised work conducted on practice characteristics of advanced practice
nurses (Stilwell and Scott, in Orzel, 1998) and occupational function of the nurse practitioner
(Hicks and Hennessy, 1998), and proposed a generic curriculum based on flexible standards.
The content areas in this curriculum are consistent with the competencies in Table 1.
Specialist attributes have been referred to in the literature as the ‘X factor’ (Cattini and
Knowles, 1999). According to these authors the ‘X factor’ is a combination of higher level of
clinical decision making, flexibility, problem solving and change management that
characterise the dynamic nature of specialist practice. Whilst the authors were relating this
quality to clinical nurse specialist competencies, the notion of the ‘X factor’ is useful in
applying specialist attributes within the generic nurse practitioner competency framework of
Table 1: Nurse practitioner Competencies and performance indicators for Standard 1
Standard 1 – Competencies
Conducts advanced, comprehensive and holistic health assessment relevant to a specialist
field of nursing practice
a. Dem onstrates advanced knowledge of hum an sciences and extended skills in diagnostic reasoning
b. Differentiates between norm al, variation of norm al and abnorm al findings in clinical assessm ent
c. Rapidly assesses a patient’s unstable and com plex health-care problem through synthesis and prioritisation of historical and
d. Makes decisions about use of investigative options that are judicious, patient-focused and inform ed by clinical findings
e. Dem onstrates confidence in own ability to synthesise and interpret assessm ent inform ation including client/patient history,
physical findings and diagnostic data to identify norm al and abnorm al states of health and differential diagnoses
f. Makes inform ed and autonom ous decisions about preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic responses and interventions that
are based on clinical judgm ent, scientific evidence, and patient-determ ined outcom es
Demonstrates a high level of confidence and clinical proficiency in carrying out a range of
procedures, treatments and interventions that are evidence based and informed by specialist
a. Consistently dem onstrates a thoughtful and innovative approach to effective clinical m anagem ent planning in collaboration
with the patient/client
b. Exhibits a com prehensive knowledge of pharm acology and pharm acokinetics related to a specific field of clinical practice
c. Selects/prescribes appropriate m edication, including dosage, routes and frequency pattern, based upon accurate knowledge
of patient characteristics and concurrent therapies
d. Is knowledgeable and creative in selection and integration of both pharm acological and non-pharm acological treatm ent
interventions into the m anagem ent plan in consultation with the patient/client
e. Rapidly and continuously evaluates the patient/client/’s condition and response to therapy and m odifies the m anagem ent
plan when necessary to achieve desired patient/client outcom es
f. Is an expert clinician in the use of therapeutic interventions specific to, and based upon, their expert knowledge of specialty
g. Collaborates effectively with other health professionals and agencies and m akes and accepts referrals as appropriate to
specific m odel of practice
h. Evaluates treatm ent/intervention regim es on com pletion of the episode of care, in accordance with patient/client-determ ined
Has the capacity to use the knowledge and skills of extended practice competencies in
complex and unfamiliar environments
a. Actively engages com m unity/public health assessm ent inform ation to inform interventions, referrals and coordination of care
b. Dem onstrates confidence and self-efficacy in accom m odating uncertainty and m anaging risk in com plex patient care
c. Dem onstrates professional integrity, probity and ethical conduct in response to industry m arketing strategies when
prescribing drugs and other products.
d. Uses critical judgm ent to vary practice according to contextual and cultural influences
e. Confidently integrates scientific knowledge and expert judgm ent to assess and intervene to assist the person in com plex and
Demonstrates skills in accessing established and evolving knowledge in clinical and social
sciences, and the application of this knowledge to patient care and the education of others.
a. Critically appraises and integrates relevant research findings in decision m aking about health-care m anagem ent and patient
b. Dem onstrates the capacity to conduct research/quality audits as deem ed necessary in the practice environm ent
c. Dem onstrates an open-m inded and analytical approach to acquiring new knowledge
d. Dem onstrates the skills and values of lifelong learning and relates this to the dem ands of extended clinical practice
Professional efficacy whereby practice is structured in a nursing model and enhanced
by autonomy and accountability
This standard determines that nurse practitioner practice is sustained by a commitment and
fidelity to the primacy of a nursing model of practice. Our findings indicated that within this
model of practice the nurse practitioner demonstrates the ability and confidence to apply
extended practice competencies within a scope of practice that is autonomous and
collaborative. Our findings support and are supported by previous research on the importance
of autonomous practice for the nurse practitioner (Cullen, 2000; Cole and Ramirez, 2000;
Marsden et al. 2003; Brown and Draye, 2003). In a Delphi study with 24 expert stakeholders
in nurse practitioner practice Marsden et al (2003) found autonomy to be an important factor
in the nurse practitioner role that was not only necessary for practice but also engendered
effective risk management. Table 2 lists the competencies and performance indicators for this
Table2: Nurse practitioner Competencies and performance indicators for Standard 2
Standard 2 – Competencies
Applies extended practice competencies within a nursing model of practice
a. Readily identifies the values intrinsic to nursing that inform nurse practitioner practice and an holistic approach
to patient/client/com m unity care
b. Com m unicates a calm , confident and knowing approach to patient care that brings com fort and em otional
support to the client and their fam ily
c. Dem onstrates the ability and confidence to apply extended practice com petencies within a scope of practice
that is autonom ous and collaborative
d. Creates a clim ate that supports m utual engagem ent and establishes partnerships with patients/carer/fam ily
e. Readily articulates a coherent and clearly defined nurse practitioner scope of practice that is characterised by
extensions and param eters
Establishes therapeutic links with the patient/client/ community that recognise and
respect cultural identity and lifestyle choices
a. Dem onstrates respect for the rights of people to determ ine their own journey through a health/illness episode
while ensuring access to accurate and appropriately interpreted inform ation on which to base decisions
b. Dem onstrates cultural com petence by incorporating cultural beliefs and practices into all interactions and plans
for direct and referred care
c. Dem onstrates respect for differences in cultural and social responses to health and illness and incorporates
health beliefs of the individual/com m unity into treatm ent and m anagem ent m odalities
Is proactive in conducting clinical service that is enhanced and extended by
autonomous and accountable practice
a. Establishes effective, collegial relationships with other health professionals that reflect confidence in the
contribution that nursing m akes to client outcom es
b. Readily uses creative solutions and processes to m eet patient/client /com m unity defined health-care outcom es
within a fram e of autonom ous practice
c. Dem onstrates accountability in considering access, clinical efficacy and quality when m aking patient-care
d. Incorporates the im pact of the nurse practitioner service within local and national jurisdictions into the scope of
e. Advocates for expansion to the nurse practitioner m odel of service that will im prove access to quality, cost-
effective health care for specific populations
Clinical leadership that influences and progresses clinical care, policy and collaboration
through all levels of health service
This standard recognises the need for the nurse practitioner to be a clinical leader with the
ability to promote the professional role and the service needs of their client base in clinical,
political and professional forums. Our findings in this area are less robust than in the previous
two practice standards. This may be related to the newness of the role of nurse practitioner
and the relative lack of experience, particularly as it relates to this level of clinical leadership,
in the role of the research participants. However, whilst the data on leadership practice are
limited in this study there was a firm commitment from the participants’ narratives to their
role as leaders in both the clinical and the systems level of health service (Gardner et al.
One important manifestation of this leadership role was the way these participants saw
themselves as pioneers. The nurse practitioner role in Australia and New Zealand is in its
infancy. Many of the clinicians in this study were required to establish their positions in
environments that were ill-prepared and at times hostile. The competencies that were utilised
to establish these roles included advocating for their client population, lobbying
administrators and other activities that we have categorised as leadership. Our interpretation
is supported by a study that was conducted with 50 nurse practitioners in North America who
pioneered establishment of nurse practitioner roles during 1965-1979 (Brown and Draye,
2003). The findings from this grounded theory study were summarised as ‘a commitment to
advanced autonomy to make a difference to the quality of patient care’. The reported
experiences of the participants in this study resonate with those of the participants in our
study. The competencies for this standard are described in Table 3.
Table3: Nurse practitioner Competencies and performance indicators for Standard 3
Standard 3 - Competencies
Engages in and leads clinical collaboration that optimise outcomes for
a. Actively participates as a senior m em ber and/or leader of relevant m ultidisciplinary team s
b. Establishes effective com m unication strategies that prom ote positive m ultidisciplinary clinical partnerships
c. Articulates and prom otes the nurse practitioner role in clinical, political and professional contexts
d. Monitors their own practice as well as participating in intra- and inter-disciplinary peer supervision and review
Engages in and leads informed critique and influence at the systems level of health-care
a. Critiques the im plication of em erging health policy on the nurse practitioner role and the client population
b. Evaluates the im pact of social factors (such as literacy, poverty, dom estic violence and racial attitudes) on the
health of individuals and com m unities and acts to m oderate the influence of these factors on the specific
c. Maintains current knowledge of financing of the health-care system as it affects delivery of care
d. Influences health-care policy and practice through leadership and active participation in workplace and
professional organisations and at state and national governm ent levels
e. Actively contributes to and advocates for the developm ent of specialist, local and national, health-
service policy that enhances nurse practitioner practice and the health of the com m unity
The collaboration between Australia and New Zealand on the Nurse Practitioner Standards
Project has achieved important outcomes to inform mutual recognition of the nurse
practitioner role across the eight jurisdictions that regulate nurse practitioner preparation and
practice across these two countries. Our research findings include the development of
competencies that define the expectations of nurse practitioner practice across three
Standards. These Standards include clinical, professional and leadership roles that form the
structure of nurse practitioner practice.
The research also identified attributes that qualitatively differentiate the practice of the nurse
practitioner from other nursing roles. These attributes conform to the notion of capability.
This is the ability to use non-linear reasoning and draw upon creative solutions in dealing
with the complexity of this level and type of health care practice. These attributes are
strongly represented in the description and characteristics of the core role of the nurse
practitioner and are in partnership with the above competency framework. This analysis is
tentative and further research is required to test the fit of capability with nurse practitioner
The completion of this research project to develop generic standards for nurse practitioners in
Australia and New Zealand is a beginning. The introduction of these competencies needs to
be staged using an extensive dissemination and feedback strategy. Following implementation
there needs to be a comprehensive evaluation using a rigorous methodology incorporating
wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders including consumers, employers and the other
members of the multidisciplinary health-care team as well as the nurse practitioners
themselves and those who educate and accredit them. Finally, in addition to establishing a
research informed basis for regulation, education, and practice at national level this study has
contributed to the global debate on nurse practitioner competencies.
ACT Government., 2002. The ACT nurse practitioner report: final report of the steering
American Nurses Association., 2002. Advanced practice nursing: A new age in health-care.
Australian Nursing Federation., 1997. Competency standards for the advanced nurse.
Brown, M., Draye, M., 2003. Experiences of pioneer nurse practitioners in establishing
advanced practice roles. Journal of Nursing Scholarship. 35(4), 391-7.
Brown, S. A., Grimes, D.E., 1995. A meta-analysis of nurse practitioners and nurse midwives
in primary care. Nursing Research 44 (6), 332-339.
Cairns, L., 1997. The capability learning model. 3rd annual Australian Capability Network,
Carroll, M., 2002. Advanced nursing practice. Nursing Standard 16 (29), 33-35.
Cattini, P., Knowles, V., 1999. Core competencies for clinical nurse specialists: a useable
framework. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 8 (5), 505-11.
Cole, F L., Ramirez, E., 2000. Nurse practitioner autonomy in a clinical setting Emergency
Nurse; Feb 2000, 7, 9; Career and Technical Education. p. 26
Cullen, C., 2000. Autonomy and the nurse practitioner. Nurse Standards, 2000 Feb 9-15; 14
Donald, F. C., McCurdy, C., 2002. Review: nurse practitioner primary care improves patient
satisfaction and quality of care with no difference in health outcomes. Evidenced Based
Nursing 5(October), 121.
Gardner, A., Gardner, G., 2005. A trial of nurse practitioner scope of practice. Journal of
Advanced Nursing 49 (2), 135-145.
Gardner, G., Carryer, J., Dunn, S., Gardner, A. 2004. The Nurse Practitioner Standards
Project: Report to the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council . ANMC November
Girot, E., 2000. Assessment of graduates and diplomates in practice in the UK - are we
measuring the same level of competence? Journal of Clinical Nursing 9, 330-337.
Hase, S., 2000. Measuring organisational capability: beyond competence. Future Research,
Research Futures: the 3rd Australian VET Research Association Conference, Canberra
Hase, S., Kenyon, C., 2000. From andragogy to heutagogy. UltiBASE
Hicks, C., Hennessy, D.,1998. A Triangulation approach to the identification of acute sector
nurses’ training needs for formal nurse practitioner status. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 27
Horrocks, S. E., Anderson, E., Salisbury, C., 2002. Systematic review of whether nurse
practitioners working in primary care can provide equivalent care to doctors. British Medical
Journal 324 (6 April), 819-823.
Keating, P.,1994. Working Nation. Canberra, Australian Government Publishing Service
Kinnersley, P., Anderson, E., Parry, K., Clement, J., Archard, L., Turton, P., Stainthorpe,
A., Fraser, A., Butler, C., Rogers, C., 2000. Randomised controlled trial of nurse
practitioner versus general practitioner care for patients requesting 'same day' consultations
in primary care. British Medical Journal 320, 1043-1048.
Marsden, J., Dolan, B., Holt, L., 2003. Nurse practitioner practice and deployment: electronic
mail Delphi study. Journal of Advanced Nursing 43 (6), 595-605.
NSW Health Department., 1995. Nurse practitioner project (stage three). Final report of the
steering committee. Sydney, NSW Health Department
Nursing Council of New Zealand., 2001. The Nurse Practitioner. Nursing Council of New
Orzel, M., 1998. A collaborative generic curriculum development to support practitioners
functioning within enhanced roles. Accident & Emergency Nursing. 6 (3), 149-54.
Pearson, A., Peels, S., 2002. The nurse practitioner. International Journal of Nursing Practice
8 (4), S5-S9.
Read, S., 2001. Exploring new roles in practice (ENRip). Final report. 2003
Royal College of Nursing Australia., 2000. Position statement: advanced practice nursing.
Sakr, M., Angus, J., Perrin, J., Nixon, C., Nicholl, J., Wardrop, J., 1999. Care of minor
injuries by emergency nurse practitioners or junior doctors: a randomised controlled trial. The
Lancet 354 (October 16), 1321-1326.
Stephenson, J., Weil, S., 1992. Quality in learning: A capability approach in higher
education. London, Kogan Page
Stilwell, B., Scott, C., in Orzel, M., 1998. A collaborative generic curriculum development to
support practitioners functioning within enhanced roles. Accident & Emergency Nursing. 6
Sutton, F., Arbon, P., 1994. Australian nursing - moving forward? Competencies and the
nursing profession. Nurse Education Today 14, 388-93.
UKCC., 1999. Fitness for Practice. UKCC, London.
26 Download full-text
Venning, P., Durie, A., Roland, M., Roberts, C., Leeses, B., 2000. Randomised control trial
comparing cost effectiveness of general practitioners and nurse practitioners in primary care.
British Medical Journal 320 (7241), 1048-1053.
Watkins MJ 2000 Competency for nursing practice. Journal of Clinical Nursing 9 (3), 338-
Watson, R., Simpson, A., Topping, A., Porock, D., 2002. Clinical competence
assessment in nursing: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of Advanced
Nursing 39 (5), 421-431.
Winter, R., Maisch, M., 1996. Professional competence and higher education: the Asses
programme. Falmer Press, London.