Journal of Professional Nursing

The training and education of nurse practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand: Time for nationwide refresh

Te whakapiki i te whakangungu me te akoranga mō ngā mātanga tapuhi i Aotearoa: Kua tae ki te wā me whakahou mō te motu katoa

Sue Adams, PhD, RN, Co-Leader, NP-EN Workforce Programme; Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing
Sandy Oster, NP, Director of NPTP, School of Nursing
Josephine Davis, NP, Co-leader NP-EN Workforce Programme, School of Nursing; Ngāpuhi

Reference:  Adams, S., Oster, S., Davis, J. (2022). The training and education of nurse practitioners in Aotearoa New Zealand: Time for nationwide refresh [Editorial]. Nursing Praxis in Aotearoa New Zealand, 38(1), 1-4. 

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Twenty years ago saw the first mātanga tapuhi/nurse practitioner (NP) registered in Aotearoa New Zealand; the launch of the Primary Health Care Strategy (King, 2001); and a white paper (Hughes & Carryer, 2002) describing the potential of a NP workforce to improve access to healthcare and equity of health outcomes. Since that time, we have witnessed concerted efforts by nurse leaders, educationalists, NPs, and colleagues across the health and disability sector to ensure the foundational educational, legislative, and regulatory requirements are in place to enable NPs to work to their full scope of practice as advanced practitioners and authorised prescribers (Nursing Council of New Zealand [NCNZ], n.d.). A NP’s work is similar to a general practitionerin primary care or to a registrar in the hospitalenvironment, with unequivocal evidence that healthoutcomes achieved by NPs are at least equivalent,indeed, oftentimes superior (Laurant et al., 2018;Martínez-González et al., 2014). But this only tells apart of the story. Nurse practitioners bring a nursingparadigm to their advanced role, which embraces anunderstanding of the socio-economic-culturalcontext of the lives of whānau, commitment torelational care, and the leadership to identify healthneeds and bridge gaps in service delivery (Browne &Tarlier, 2008; Carryer & Adams, 2017).Approximately 55% of NPs work in areas broadly defined as primary health care (PHC), with perhaps 40% working in more traditional primary care and general practice settings.1 As we enter the third decade of the NP workforce in Aotearoa New Zealand, with 607 NPs now registered with NCNZ (Figure 1), it is time to revisit current education and training and ensure we are holding true to the intent of the NP project.

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