Aims The aim of this study was to explore the current role of general practice nurses and the scope of nursing practice to inform the development of national professional practice standards for Australian general practice nurses.
Background Increasing numbers of nurses have been employed in Australian general practice to meet the growing demand for primary care services. This has brought significant changes to the nursing role. Competency standards for nurses working in general practice were first developed in Australia in 2005, but limited attention has been placed on articulating the contemporary scope of practice for nurses in this setting.
Design Concurrent mixed methods design.
Methods Data collection was conducted during 2013-2014 and involved two online surveys of Registered and Enrolled Nurses currently working in general practice, a series of 14 focus groups across Australia and a series of consultations with key experts.
Findings Data collection enabled the development of 22 Practice Standards separated into four domains: (i) Professional Practice; (ii) Nursing Care; (iii) General Practice Environment and (iv) Collaborative Practice. To differentiate the variations in enacting these Standards, performance indicators for the Enrolled Nurse, Registered Nurse and Registered Nurse Advanced Practice are provided under each Standard.
Conclusion The development of national professional practice standards for nurses working in Australian general practice will support ongoing workforce development. These Standards are also an important means of articulating the role and scope of the nurses' practice for both consumers and other health professionals, as well as being a guide for curriculum development and measurement of performance.