NP registration celebrated

1 January 2009

Eight years of registering nurse practitioners has been marked with a new website, celebratory publications and extra funding to help boost NP numbers.

On December 11, 2001 neonatal nurse Deborah Harris became the country’s first nurse practitioner and by December 11, 2009 she had been joined by 62 more.

Chief nurse Mark Jones said embedding the nurse practitioner role in the health system had not been “plain sailing”.

“It’s a real milestone to reach this number in just eight years, and we are incredibly proud of all those nurses who have been pioneers in this demanding new role.”

The Ministry of Health and the DHBNZ Future Workforce NP Facilitation Programme launched the 2009 NP resource kit on December 11 to mark the day.

“NPs are playing an increasingly important role in helping New Zealand meet the challenges facing the health system,” Jones said. “They provide a sustainable and expert workforce that’s flexible and provides great value for money. We need more of them.”

The kit includes Nurse Practitioners: A healthy future for New Zealand, which celebrates the first 50 NPs with photographs and personal stories and NP Innovations, which reports on the first projects funded by the NP Facilitation Programme in 2008 to boost NP numbers and awareness as well as announcing the successful project winners to be funded in 2009.

The “kit” also includes a dedicated website – www.nursepractitioner.org.nz – plus six posters and a flyer.

College of Nurses executive director Jenny Carryer described the initiative as “fabulous”.

Helen Snell, chair of the Nurse Practitioner Advisory Committee of New Zealand (NPAC-NZ), which was the third partner in producing A healthy future, said the document celebrated the pioneer spirit of the first 50 NPs. She said it described what NPs did and who for, in non-jargon terms and would, in time, be quite historic.

The booklet lists the names of all 50 NPs and features stories and photos of 20 of them ranging from aged care to emergency care and isolated rural practice to youth health.

The 40-page innovations booklet summarises the 13 projects funded in 2008 by the NP Facilitation Programme, which ranged from developing NP roles in aged care to funding existing NPs to better develop their role.

It also outlined the new focus for the 2009 funding which was to provide $15,000 grants to employer-selected nurses close to seeking NP registration. The funding was to cover assistance to develop their NP portfolio, mentorship, supervision and release time to experience working with other NPs. The focus practice areas were emergency care, mental health, older people and primary health care.

There were 22 applications for the funding, with primary health care dominating the 12 successful employer applications to support a total of 16 NP candidates. After primary health, the strongest sector was primary or community mental health. Candidate employers included two district health boards, two PHOs, a number of general practice groups and several NGO providers. Unlike 2008 there were no successful aged care candidates.