The new right for registered nurses to prescribe is welcomed by Professor Jenny Carryer but she also questions whether training funding is enough to meet the "huge education commitment" required.
From September 20 suitably qualified registered nurses will be able to prescribe a limited list of medicines used in long-term and common conditions while working within a collaborative health services team.
But before nurses can be authorised as RN prescribers by the Nursing Council they need to complete a postgraduate diploma (or equivalent) involving 1200 hours of study and a prescribing practicum of at least 150 hours under the supervision of a prescribing mentor.
Carryer, Massey University's professor of nursing and the executive director of the College of Nurses, welcomed the new step is positive as it allowed the nursing workforce to do more and increased people's access to care.
But she also said that nurses do not always see medicalised developments in nursing as an achievement.
“This change is a responsibility that needs to be shouldered, and carries a huge education commitment," said Carryer. "Health Workforce New Zealand funding of nursing education is spread thin, and analysis is needed to find out whether the funding is meeting the new training needs.”
She said the government's decision to go ahead with RN prescribing was evidence-based and followed the successful pilot of diabetes nurse prescribing in 2011.
Carryer said the pilot project review carried out by herself and Dr Jill Wilkinson found patients reported significant satisfaction from the care they received from prescribing registered nurses.
“Patients said they had received such clear and accessible information about their diabetes that they felt much more able to self-manage their condition effectively,” said Carryer.
She also pointed out that the postgraduate prescribing diploma was the first half of the clinical masters degree in nursing required by nurses seeking to become nurse practitioners.
“Nurses who pass (the diploma) will become ‘designated prescribers’, which means they will be able to prescribe from a specified range of medicines," said Carryer. "This is in contrast to nurse practitioners who can prescribe from the full range of possible medications."