Journal of Professional Nursing

Implementing a prescribing practicum within a master’s degree in advanced nursing practice 

Deb Spence, RN, RM, PhD, Joint Head of Nursing, School of Health Care Practice, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland
Maxine Anderson, RN, MPhil., Previously Senior Lecturer, Eastern Institute of Technology, Hawke’s Bay

Reference:  Spence, D., & Anderson, M. (2007). Implementing a prescribing precticum within a Master’s degree in advanced nursing practice. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 23(2), 27-42.


The recent introduction of Nurse Practitioner registration in New Zealand has resulted in the development of a number of Master’s degree programmes in which students focus clinically and can complete a Nursing Council of New Zealand approved programme for prescribing. This article reports the implementation of a collaborative project undertaken to monitor and improve the effectiveness of the prescribing practicum papers delivered within two Master’s degree programmes in advanced nursing practice. A developmental action research approach was used. Data were collected through interviews with practicum students, their medical supervisors and academic staff. Formative findings were progressively used to refine delivery of the practicum papers and a thematic analysis of summative findings identified areas for further improvement. The findings suggest that the processes being implemented are developing well. Further education is required to clearly differentiate medical and advanced nursing roles. Greater attention needs to be paid to the preparation of medical supervisors and, most significantly, revision of funding is required to more equitably support the ongoing development of nurses for advanced practice roles.

Nurse Practitioner, postgraduate education, nurse prescribing, action research

The potential for nursing to contribute more effectively to improve the health needs of New Zealanders has been significantly enhanced through the recent introduction of Nurse Practitioner registration and the inclusion of specialty related prescribing within this role (Health Practitioners’ Competence Assurance Act, 2003; Medicines Amendment Act, 1999; Medicines (Designated Prescriber: Nurse Practitioners) Regulations, 2005).Throughout the country a small but increasing number of experienced registered nurses are engaged in completing clinically focused Master’s degrees and, within these programmes, some are choosing to develop competency in prescribing.

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