NP numbers starting to soar

2 May 2017

A more than 30 per cent leap in nurse practitioner numbers in the previous year was celebrated at the biannual Nurse Practitioners New Zealand conference at the weekend. 

NPNZ chair Mark Baldwin told the gathering of around 100 NPs in Wellington that it used be that there were "too few to matter, now there are too many NPs to ignore."

The conference heard that 77 new NPs had been approved by the Nursing Council in the 12 months to the end of March this year raising the number of registered NPs to 247. Half of all NPs work in primary health care settings and generally work with populations and patients that were more vulnerable due to their complex health needs, geographical isolation and/or socio economic deprivation. 

NPNZ executive member Di Williams said in true NP style the delegates were unflappable when a fire alarm saw them forced to evacuate into the Wellington wind and rain on Saturday until getting the all clear by the Fire Service.

The conference was held as a cluster of three one-day conferences spread from April 27-29 including a day focusing on nurse practitioner development for NPs in the making, a one-day prescribing workshop and the final day which focused on professional issues.

Presentations included prescribing case studies in emergency care, older person, primary care, emergency rural and mental health.  There were also a presentation on an NP-owned primary health care practice, research into NP prescribing, an update on the new NP regulations and scope from the Nursing Council and a presentation from Office of the Chief Nurse on the long-awaited Bill that will allow NPs to provide improved access for patients to areas like drivers license and death certification.

Williams said the conference also frustratingly heard that  funding to support the  Nurse Practitioner Training Programme being ongoing was 'still pending'.  The 19 interns in the last year's initial cohort of the Health Workforce New Zealand-funded demonstration had their assessment panels in March and April this year. Williams said NPNZ regarded HWNZ funding for postgraduate nursing education as highly inequitable compared to similar level medical training.

Updated May 18

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