Research Article| Volume 20, ISSUE 2, P79-86, June 2013

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An examination of barriers to Nurse Practitioner endorsement in senior rural drug and alcohol nurses in New South Wales

  • Stephen Ling
    Corresponding author at: Drug and Alcohol, Division of Medicine, John Hunter Hospital, Locked Bag 1, HRMC, NSW 2305, Australia. Tel.: +61 02 49213000; fax: +61 02 49214130.
    Drug and Alcohol, John Hunter Hospital, Hunter New England Area Health Service, New South Wales, Australia

    The Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Janette Curtis
    School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Renee Brighton
    School of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Adrian Dunlop
    The Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

    Drug and Alcohol Clinical Services, Hunter New England Area Health Service, New South Wales, Australia
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      Introduction and aims

      To examine barriers senior rural nurses in New South Wales drug and alcohol clinical settings perceive when considering endorsement to Nurse Practitioner (NP).

      Design and methods

      A survey was designed to record views of senior alcohol and drug nurses in rural New South Wales about becoming a NP. Participants were identified by Area Health Service Directors of Drug and Alcohol Services for each Area Health Service in NSW excluding metropolitan Sydney. Forty eight surveys were distributed, with 17 (35%) completed surveys included in the results.


      Of the 17 participants, 12 (70.6%) expressed interest in becoming a NP. The majority (12, 70.6%) were unaware or unsure of endorsement processes. Lack of clarity about the NP role and processes and benefits to becoming a NP was found to be of most concern to all participants. Only 6 participants (35%) indicated they would consider seeking endorsement to NP.

      Discussion and conclusion

      Despite agreeing that NP positions in alcohol and drug settings would improve patient access to treatment and care, senior nurses working in these settings in regional areas are unfamiliar with pathways to becoming endorsed. Barriers, such as a lack of internal support from management and colleagues, as well as the fact that respondents reported no foreseeable financial gain in endorsement, also need to be addressed, before more nurses will consider endorsement. Further evaluation of the views of senior nurses in metropolitan alcohol and other drug settings in the process to NP endorsement is needed before clients will benefit from the expertise and enhanced care that NP's may provide.


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