Registrar-style programme proposed for NPS

1 February 2010

The first steps to developing a registrar-style programme for fledgling nurse practitioners are being taken by the Nurse Practitioners Advisory Committee (NPAC).

Helen Snell, an NP and chair of NPAC, said the current clinical training pathway for nurse practitioners was relatively ad hoc and reliant on employer goodwill.

The committee was proposing replacing this informal process with a two-year “candidate”, “intern” or “registrar” programme focused on honing a prospective NP’s clinical skills.

Snell said the programme would ensure that a candidate, close to completing a master’s degree, was provided with the level of clinical supervision, specialist expertise and work experience to challenge, develop and fine-tune their clinical skills.

The committee has developed a 20-page draft guideline for such a programme which has gone out for initial feedback from some nursing leaders including Clinical Training Agency board member Helen Pocknall.

Snell said a revised draft would go out for wider consultation after meetings in February and March. It was hoped the resulting final guidelines would be taken up and funded by the new Clinical Training Agency Board in a similar manner to registrar programmes for the medical workforce.

The programme would be separate and in addition to the requirement for NPs to complete a master’s degree. Snell said master’s programmes in New Zealand had a clinical focus rather than being clinical degrees (apart from the prescribing practicum) and the proposed registrar-style programme would be purely focused on clinical skill development of the prospective NP.

As an example of the need for such a programme, she said it was very difficult for isolated rural nurses to get the clinical supervision and oversight to develop their skills and a registrar-style programme could overcome this.

Snell added that the concept was still in its very early stages and was a “work in progress” but it had invited CTA board chair Des Gorman or his delegate to attend the NPAC meeting in March to discuss the idea.

It is understood that NP group Nurse Practitioners New Zealand is also working on a paper on proposed new education standards for master’s programmes preparing potential NPs.

Meanwhile, funding for the Nurse Practitioner Facilitation project – designed to boost the development and employment of NPs – came to a close at the end of 2009. The last projects include release of the 2009 NP Resource Kit at the end of the year which includes a brochure reporting on the first NP innovations funded by the programme in 2008 as well as announcing the second and last round of grants to support the development of 16 future NPs.

Jim Green, head of the District Health Boards New Zealand’s nursing and midwifery workforce group said the website initiated by the facilitation project would continue to be maintained by DHBNZ’s Future Workforce group. The resources developed would also remain available and planning and development would continue within boards. “The project has given the boost intended and has been very successful,” Green said.

Snell said NPAC and NPNZ would step in to help continue some of the project’s initiatives. The two groups were also working on an NP mentorship project and were planning to hold a workshop at the end of April.