Nurse practitioner | Mātanga tapuhi

Key points about nurse practitioners

  • A mātanga tapuhi or nurse practitioner is a highly skilled registered nurse (RN) with advanced education, clinical training and demonstrated competence.
  • Nurse practitioners are legally allowed to practise beyond the level of an RN and can carry out assessments and treatments, order diagnostic tests and prescribe within their area of competence. 
  • They can work alone or within teams of health professionals to promote health, prevent disease, and improve access and population health outcomes for a specific patient group or community. 
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The role of nurse practitioner was first introduced in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2000.

Nurse practitioners have received advanced education and clinical training. They have the demonstrated competence and legal authority to practise beyond the level of a registered nurse.

Nurse practitioners provide care for people with both common and complex conditions, prescribing medicines within their area of expertise with the same authority as other prescribers. They can also make diagnoses and order and interpret tests to help diagnose and treat their patients.

Aerial view female nurse or doctor does blood pressure check on man

Image credit: Pexels

If you visit a nurse practitioner this is what you can expect them to do:

  • Obtain health histories and perform physical examinations
  • Diagnose and treat acute health problems such as infections and injuries
  • Case manage clients with highly complex chronic conditions, assisting them to access services to keep them in their homes and family environment
  • Diagnose, treat and monitor chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension
  • Manage and monitor treatments
  • Order, perform and interpret diagnostic studies such as laboratory test results and X-rays
  • Prescribe medications and other treatments within their fields of expertise
  • Provide family planning and women’s health services
  • Provide Well Child care, including screening and immunisations
  • Provide health maintenance care for adults, including annual physical checks
  • Provide care that is culturally appropriate and specific for Māori
  • Provide education and counselling about self-care
  • Collaborate with other health professionals as needed
  • Refer to other health professionals as necessary
  • Accept referrals from other health professionals.

Many nurse practitioners work in primary care, where, like a GP, they may be the lead health care provider. Other settings include:

  • Community health settings
  • Hospitals and hospital clinics
  • Public health services
  • Māori health services
  • Marae
  • General practices or specialist clinics
  • School and university/polytechnic student health clinics including kōhanga reo
  • Pacific providers
  • Workplaces (eg, occupational health)
  • Rest homes and hospices
  • Nurse practitioner centres/offices
  • Home health care agencies.

Nurse practitioners must be registered nurses with a minimum of 4 years’ experience in a specific area.

They must also complete an approved clinical masters’ degree, which includes advanced practice and prescribing within a defined area of practice.

Nurse practitioners have to pass an assessment by an approved panel and have a minimum of 300 hours’ clinical supervision.

Every 3 years, they must provide evidence they have maintained their knowledge and skills when they apply for their practising certificate.

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Credits: Healthify Editorial Team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

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