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Nurse practitioners face barriers to providing best care in rural areas

Rural nurse practitioners are facing a number of hurdles when it comes to being able to deliver the best care possible.

This is the opinion of a new study looking into extended scopes of practice in rural settings, carried out by researchers from the University of Newcastle’s Department of Rural Health.

Legal and regulatory barriers occur and slow down the system in these areas, as does ambiguity around the scope of the NP role itself.

Associate professor Tony Smith said his team observed a number of health service gaps, and as Australia seems to have few developed extended scope practice roles, NPs are great case studies to use.

“Certainly this has been raised before, not just by myself but by others, such as the Grattan Institute and even the Productivity Commission,” Smith said.

“You know, we're going back to 2005, when the Productivity Commission did an extensive analysis of the Australian health workforce. They drew similar conclusions that we needed to actually have a close look at some of these barriers. Now we're almost 15 years on and I think we're still struggling with some of the same issues that we were struggling with then.”

Smith and his team conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with primary nurse practitioner informants, who were also invited to nominate up to two colleagues as secondary informants.

Nursing Review spoke with Smith to hear more about the barriers and enablers affecting practice.

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