The first ever appointment of an NP into a rural general practice by a government-funded rural recruiter is hoped to open doors for more NP placements to follow.
Nurse practitioner Rachael Pretorius has started work at Martinborough Health Services after being placed by NZLocums, the recruitment division of the New Zealand Rural General Practice Network, which is contracted by the Ministry of Health to recruit GPs and NPs for short or long-term (and permanent) rural placements.
Sharon Hansen, a Temuka-based NP herself and the chair of the Network, said she was thrilled by the appointment and believed it was a signal of the sector coming of age and starting to see the worth of the NP role in general practice.
"I'm not suggesting for one moment that that might lead to jobs tomorrow but people are becoming interested in the role, and less threatened by it."
"We have known for a long-time we need every qualified practitioner we can get our hands on – doctor or nurse – and to have the sector now start asking us for NP placements, and to see it as part of their legitimate business, is very exciting."
Pretorius qualified as a prescribing NP in 2014 and moved from an Auckland practice to take up the Martinborough role and said she loved working in the rural setting.
Hansen said it was a coup for the network's recruitment arm to place its first NP and – with the government investing in 20 extra NP training places next year – she hopes the NP numbers will continue to grow and their contribution become more apparent.
“We look forward to future opportunities to place Nurse Practitioners in rural general practice teams and to the valuable contribution they will make to easing workforce pressures in the rural health sector."
As at March 31 this year there were 145 actively practising NPs in the country