Nurse Practitioners

Internationally the Nurse Practitioner role is recognised as a valuable addition to health care provision in a wide range of settings. However, within the South Island the number of Nurse Practitioner roles had not grown as expected.  In 2013 the South Island Workforce Development Hub formed a work stream to specifically develop a pathway to support Nurse Practitioner role development across the South Island.

This regional collaboration owes much to the work previously completed within the Southern District Health Board who kindly allowed their documentation to be ‘regionalised’.

Sustaining a Nurse Practitioner workforce in the South Island will require nursing leaders to:

  • Identify future Nurse Practitioner roles and match roles to potential candidates.
  • Support the education and development of candidates for Nurse Practitioner to ensure successful employment and retention.
  • Share information and opportunities across the region with focus on practice areas where recruitment is challenging and sustainability relies on long-term support.

This webpage contains the tools that nurse leaders require to develop Nurse Practitioner roles informed by input from Nurse Practitioners across the country who responded to a national Nurse Practitioner survey and/or contributed their practice profiles.

We have recently undertaken a stocktake of our South Island numbers (as at May 2016). It is pleasing to see that the number of NPs in the South Island has grown from 11 in 2010 to 35 in 2016, with a further 12 NP Intern/Candidates employed across the South Island. For a breakdown of this information by location and specialty area click here.

Resources for growing and developing the Nurse Practitioner role

While Nurse Practitioners can work in any setting there are priority areas for future roles. These vary in different locations but are generally located in one or more of the following services.

  • Residential care for older adults
  • Remote rural health and emergency care
  • General Practice – urban and rural
  • Chronic condition management
  • Mental Health, Addictions and Intellectual disabilities

In each case a new appointment requires a development pathway that includes confirming the existence of the role through business case development and preparing a candidate to fill the role identified. Part of the preparation for any role in this scope of practice should also include succession planning, as the preparation time can be extensive and complex.

See the toolkit: South Island Nurse Practitioners in Primary Care Toolkit

Nurse Practitioners from across the country contributed their experiences of the role through completion of a survey. The key themes of the survey supported, as expected, the need for clear educational preparation and planning of supervision and experiential time. The other key theme of the feedback related to the need for employing organisations to plan for the role, be clear about expectations and support the ongoing needs of Nurse Practitioners once employed. One of the key aspects was the need to develop a role for the new Nurse Practitioner alongside or before completing the individual preparation. For this reason the toolkit contains a template to develop a business case for a Nurse Practitioner role. Through completion of a business case the organisation develops greater role clarity and direction for the development of the candidate/s who practice in the role.

For many senior nurses the choice of practice role is often that of Clinical Nurse Specialist or Nurse Practitioner. In general the national direction is predominantly toward Nurse Practitioner in community settings and Clinical Nurse Specialist in hospital settings. In real life the decision between roles is not that clearly delineated and therefore we have provided work adopted from Southern DHB that provides guidance around the role differences – Advanced Nursing Roles – Differentiation and Development..

Once a role is confirmed individual nurses become candidates for that role, progressing through education and clinical practice experience to employment in the full scope on gaining Nursing Council of New Zealand registration. The group has put together an example, also based on Southern DHB work, of a candidacy pathway – role development & framework the working group recommends for the South Island Nurse Practitioner candidate.

Lastly we would like to share profiles of three Nurse Practitioners from the South Island, together with useful links to other websites that can assist business case and role preparation:

Nursing Council of New Zealand – Nurse Practitioner Scopes of practice

Nurse Practitioners New Zealand 

Ministry of Health – Nurse Practitioners 

It is recommended that the first time reader takes time to read the Nurse Practitioner survey results and profiles before moving on to the other tools. The intent is to appreciate the richness and depth of Nurse Practitioner practice in New Zealand as a context for your particular journey along the pathway.

If you have any questions or comments please contact