An evaluation of the pilot ‘registrar’ style Nurse Practitioner Training Programme is positive but the Ministry of Health wants further feedback on whether to fund more.
The positive evaluation report of the first cohort of NP graduates from the two NPTP programmes was released this week by the Ministry of Health. The Ministry, Health Workforce New Zealand (HWNZ) and the Office of the Chief Nurse is now seeking feedback from nurses, employers, training providers and other stakeholders on whether to expand beyond the current 20 places a year and to include other nursing schools beyond the University of Auckland and Massey University programmes.
Feedback is also being sought on:
- What should be done to raise awareness of the role of nurse practitioners and the benefit of employing NPs?
- What should be done to encourage understanding of the NP scope of practice?
Nurse practitioner training providers last year expressed frustration that the majority of the country’s nurse practitioners were trained “on a shoestring” with only the 20 nurses on the NPTP pathway getting full funding support for the resource-intense minimum 300 hour clinical training practicum. (The NPTP programme is funded for 500 hour clinical hours of training – two clinical practicums of 250 hours each in advanced nursing practice and advanced diagnostic reasoning).
The evaluation report looked at the 19 nurses who were part of the first fully-funded NPTP cohort in 2016 (18 of whom gained registration as NPs) and compared them with 49 recently registered NPs who had gained registration through other pathways – mostly through having their clinical masters degrees via the regular HWNZ postgraduate funding pool. It noted that key difference between NPTP and other NP education pathways was the requirement for employers to guarantee support throughout the programme and employment as a NP after registration.
The Evaluation of a nurse practitioner education programme report by Malatest International found:
- NPTP trainees provided higher ratings than nurses from other education programmes about all aspects of their clinical supervision.
- Employers emphasised the benefits of funding for clinical release time.
- NPTP graduates provided a substantially higher rating for support they received to prepare a portfolio for registration, than graduates from other NP education pathways.
- Although employers noted changes in confidence and competency, the NPTP graduates did not self- assess themselves as substantially more prepared to work as a NP than other graduates.
- The transition to employment had gone smoothly for many of the NPTP graduates with at the time of the evaluation 13 of the 15 NPTP graduates known to be employed as NPs. (Two were still negotiating contracts with employers and the employment status was not known of four NPTP graduates.)
- A similar proportion of NPs from other education pathways were employed as NPs but about one-third had taken more than six months to find employment as an NP.
- The average salary of interviewed NPTP graduates was higher than the average salary of surveyed graduates from other NP education pathways.
- The NPTP cost more per graduate than other existing NP education pathways with the largest cost item being funding for clinical supervision and student clinical release.
- NPs who completed the NPTP, their clinical supervisors and employers were positive about the value of the protected clinical time.
- The NPTP is “potentially transferable” to other tertiary education providers who meet the NCNZ minimum criteria though stakeholders emphasised the benefits of NPs as academic supervisors, clinical supervisors and of a cohort of at least 10 students.
- The additional costs of the NPTP were offset by: educational savings as NPTP provided focused NP pathway compared to other nurses pursuing Masters degrees for variety of pathways; selection criteria ensured NPTP participants had ability to gain employment as NPs; and the financial benefits of building NPs in the workforce.
- An ongoing barrier to development of the NP workforce is lack of awareness, understanding and acceptance of the NP role
The Ministry of Health is now leading a call for feedback on nurse practitioner training and development based on the findings of the report. Submissions can be sent to email@example.com until Friday April 27.
Questions it wants feedback on include to what extent the NPTP should be expanded and what would be the benefits? Plus how to encouragage wider participation of Māori and Pacific nurses in NPTPs.