The status of Australian nurse practitioners: the second national census

Aust Health Rev. 2011 Nov;35(4):448-54. doi: 10.1071/AH10987.


Objectives: To profile Australian nurse practitioners and their practice in 2009 and compare results with a similar 2007 census. METHODS; Self-administered questionnaire.

Results: A total of 293 nurse practitioners responded (response rate 76.3%). The majority were female (n=229, 81.2%); mean age was 47.3 years (s.d.=8.1). As in 2007, emergency nurse practitioners represented the largest clinical specialty (n=63, 30.3%). A majority practiced in a metropolitan area (n=133, 64.3%); a decrease from 2007. Consistent with 2007, only 71.5% (n=208) were employed as a nurse practitioner and 22.8% (n=46) were awaiting approval for some or all of their clinical protocols. Demographic data, allocations of tasks, and patterns of practice remained consistent with 2007 results. 'No Medicare provider number' (n=182, 91.0%), 'no authority to prescribe using the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme' (n=182, 89.6%) and 'lack of organisational support' (n=105, 52.2%) were reported as 'limiting' or 'extremely limiting' to practice.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate less than satisfactory uptake of the nurse practitioner role despite authorisation. Barriers constraining nurse practitioner practice reduced but remained unacceptably high. Adequate professional and political support is necessary to ensure the efficacy and sustainability of this clinical role.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Australia
  • Censuses*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners*
  • Nursing Process*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires