EN transition prompts fears

1 June 2010

Strong employer support is needed to overcome fears of some enrolled nurses about transitioning to the new scope of practice, said Robyn Hewlett, chair of NZNO’s Enrolled Nurse Section.

More than 3000 ENs have been given 12 months to undergo a competency assessment process if they wish to transition to the new broader EN scope.

Hewlett said the Enrolled Nurse Section supported the new scope but there was some nervousness and, in some cases, anger about the transition process.

“I think if employers or district health boards have study days or education sessions that will alleviate that fear,” said Hewlett.

The Nursing Council released details this month on the competency assessment process that ENs trained before the turn of the century needed to complete, following the council’s adoption of a broader scope for the new generation of diploma-educated ENs.

Hewlett said NZNO wanted employers to be right behind ENs who had given good service and deserved the right to transition to the new scope.

Jim Green, chair of the DHBs’ Nursing and Midwifery Strategy Group said boards had been working for several months with the council on a collective resource to assist ENs transition to the new scope.

“We are confident we will be able to manage this transition, and also the transition for RNs to update their direction and delegation skills to the new requirements for the new scope.”

Gary Lees, chair of the nursing leaders group NENZ, said boards like his had also individually begun work on education programmes to support their ENs. In addition, the five midland DHBs had agreed to share resources, and local PDRP (professional development recognition programme) coordinators were also working on joint processes.

He said he felt confident they would be able to assist DHB-employed ENs make the transition, but it would be more problematic helping those employed outside of boards.

Hewlett believed most experienced ENs would be able to meet the competency assessment requirements and most would want to transition, but some close to retiring may choose not to take up the option.

The new scope would give ENs a broader base for their work and basically restore what they had had in the past before the new scope limited them to patients with stable and predictable outcomes, Hewlett said.

ENs who decide not to transition within the 12 months will have conditions placed on their scope of practice, along with the nurse assistant trained ENs who will now have the title EN but will have restricted scopes until they undergo further study.

Meanwhile the new generation of ENs will be completing an 18-month diploma programme, which hopefully will be under way next year.

The seven polytechnics currently offering nurse assistant programmes have signed up to a memorandum of understanding to develop a national diploma programme to prepare enrolled nurses.

Cathy Andrew, CPIT nursing school head and spokeswoman for the group, said the schools were working on a generic framework where students would study the same courses but with room for schools to add local flavour to their courses.

The diploma programme would need to get approval from the polytechnic qualifications authority and Nursing Council before programmes could begin next year. Andrew said schools were also working on transition programmes for existing nurse assistant students and recent graduates.