On 1 July 2008, the Poisons Act 1971 will be amended to enable Nurse Practitioners in specific positions to be authorised through the Secretary of DHHS to prescribe from an approved list of scheduled substances. Nurse Practitioners will also be authorised to make direct referrals for patients to other health care professionals, and order diagnostic investigations such as X-rays and pathology tests. Currently in Australia, there are 305 authorised Nurse Practitioners. Based on the number of authorisations. the top five areas of practice in which Nurse Practitioners are utilised are emergency services, mental health services, rural and remote, diabetes services and aged care.
Nurse Practitioners will have extensive experience in their area of speciality and will hold specific qualifications at Masters Degree level. They will operate within multidisciplinary teams to support models of practice that provide safe and high quality care; promote wellbeing and preventative health care; optimise health outcomes; and provide clinical and professional leadership. The introduction of the Nurse Practitioner role is expected to assist in attracting and retaining skilled, experienced and qualified registered nurses by providing them with an additional career pathway.
Following the release of the Nursing Board of Tasmania’s application process for Nurse Practitioners in 2008, the first Nurse Practitioner positions, which have been identified for Mental Health Services, will be introduced in Tasmania. ( TT Goals 3.3, 3.4 and 4.4 ) 1
1Reference: DHHS Annual Report 2007 - 2008 pp.73 - 74