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Significant achievement as Registered Nurse prescribing is rolled out in community health

Recently, the Associate Health Minister Hon Jenny Salesa launched the Registered Nurse Prescribing in Community Health Programme.

This is a significant achievement for nursing capability, particularly for those working in primary care and community settings. This prescribing capability supports the New Zealand Health Strategy - enabling registered nurses to fully use their skills and training to provide the right care at the earliest opportunity. The Council has focused nurse prescribing to complement the roles of other health professionals and target areas where people have challenges accessing healthcare and medicines.

Above: AH+ is proud to acknowledge network nurse, Sushma Sharma from Bishop Medical Centre who was one of the 56 Community Nurse Prescriber graduates from the trail run in 2017.

The Council, in partnership with Counties Manukau Health and Family Planning New Zealand, completed a trial and evaluation of a workplace-based education programme to prepare registered nurses prescribing in community settings such as primary health care, schools, public health and sexual health.

Nurses completed a work-based education programme and supervision before applying to prescribe from a small list of common medicines rather than use standing orders or ask a doctor to sign the prescription. Fifty-six nurses participated in the trial. These nurses were from Family Planning clinics around the country, as well as practice nurses, school nurses and public health nurses in Counties Manukau. All nurses were authorised to prescribe by November 2017.

Their prescribing practice was evaluated for a minimum of three months and the evaluation concluded that:

  • registered nurses prescribed safely using treatment guidelines.

  • nurse prescribing increased patient accessibility to medicines, decreased patients’ out-of-pocket expenses, and freed up time for doctors to see more patients.

  • nurses had high professional and job satisfaction and felt more valuable to the system.

  • education prepared nurses effectively for prescribing, and after the trial almost all nurses remained highly confident in their prescription abilities.

  • most nurses felt well supported in clinics when they needed reassurance or help.

The assessment process demonstrated that nurses prescribed antibiotics in adherence to antimicrobial stewardship principles and ensured patients were appropriately prescribed medicines according to their needs.

Above: Some of the RN graduates of the trial with Hon Minister Jenny Salesa

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