Nurse Practitioner competency standards: Findings from collaborative Australian and New Zealand research
The title, Nurse Practitioner, is protected in most jurisdictions in Australia and 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. The aim of this 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. 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. 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 protected. The research was conducted with a purposeful sample of nurse practitioners from diverse clinical settings in both countries. Interviews and material data were collected from a range of sources and data were analysed within and across these data modalities. 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 its own performance indicators. 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.