Nurse practitioner prescribing: an international perspective

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Fong, J, Buckley, T, Cashin, A 2015, 'Nurse practitioner prescribing: an international perspective', Nursing: Research and Reviews, vol. 5, pp. 99-108.

Article available on Open Access

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Background: Internationally, the delivery of care provided by nurses and midwives has undergone a significant change due to a variety of interrelated factors, including economic circumstances, a diminishing number of medical providers, the unavailability of adequate health care services in underserved and rural areas, and growing specialization among the professions. One solution to the challenges of care delivery has been the introduction of nurse practitioners (NPs) and the authorization of NPs to prescribe medicines.
Aim: The aim of this paper was to review the current international literature related to NP prescribing and compare the findings to the Australian context. The review focuses on literature from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Methods: Databases were searched from January 2000 to January 2015. The following keywords: “nurse practitioner”, “advanced nurse”, “advanced practice nurse”, “prescri*”, “Australia”, “United States America”, “UK”, “New Zealand”, “Canada”, “Europe”, “drug prescri*”, “prescri* authority”, and “prescri* legislation” were used.
Findings: NPs tend to prescribe in differing contexts of practice to provide care in underserved populations and require good systems literacy to practice across complex systems. The key themes identified internationally related to NP prescribing relate to barriers to prescribing, confidence in prescribing, and the unique role of NPs in prescribing medicines, eg, the high prevalence of prescribing pain medicines in several countries, including Australia.
Conclusion: Across all countries reviewed, there appears a need for further research into the organizational and financial conditions/climate in which NPs prescribe. Such research may give a better understanding of not only NP's true prescribing capacity currently but also inform future NP prescribing policy.

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