The structure of nursing: a national examination of titles and practice profiles

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Journal Article
International Nursing Review, 2017, 64 (2), pp. 233 - 241
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© 2017 International Council of Nurses Aim: To identify the practice patterns of the Australian registered nurse workforce according to position title and to map these disparate titles across all jurisdictions of the country. Introduction: Effective nursing workforce planning can contribute to improved patient care and increased effectiveness and efficiency of healthcare systems. Background: The prevailing approach to nursing workforce planning focuses on number of nursing staff needed in relation to the number of patients. The level of expertise and skill mix of registered nurses as a variable in workforce planning is rarely considered. Methods: A national cross-sectional electronic survey of registered nurses in Australia was conducted using the validated Advanced Practice Role Delineation tool developed from the Strong Model of Advanced Practice. The study involved a sample of 5599 registered nurses. Results: Sixty-six nursing position titles nationally were mapped using cluster analysis technique and gave rise to seven clusters of equivalent Australian jurisdictional nursing position titles and practice profiles. Discussion: Effective workforce policy and planning is reliant upon access to reliable evidence. This research is an international first in that it has provided comprehensive knowledge of the clinical level and practice profiles of a national nursing workforce. Implications for nursing policy: Effective, patient-centred workforce planning must consider both the numerical and expertise mix of a nursing workforce. This research provides Australian health service and policy planners with evidence-base knowledge of the nursing workforce. Internationally, this research establishes a platform from which to develop validated tools and established processes to support replication of this research.
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