How to Get Ready for the NPTP
Nurse Practitioner training has continued to evolve to respond to increasing demand within the health care sector to address health care disparities. With the investment and support of Te Whatu Ora, New Zealand has developed a National Nurse Practitioner Training Programme which currently provides training for up to 80 students in 2023 and up to 100 in 2024.
In 2016 the Nursing Council New Zealand (NCNZ) revised the Nurse Practitioner scope of practice, qualifications, standards and competencies in order to meet the needs of the population and workforce development requirements.
Completion of a NCNZ accredited NP master’s programme, is inclusive of clinically supervised learning.
The Nursing Council Nurse Practitioner competencies define the minimum required knowledge, skills and attributes required of nurse practitioners to achieve this scope of practice. The Council acknowledges that experienced nurse practitioners will develop additional knowledge and skills as they progress throughout their careers.
The six competencies are organised into five themes:
- Provides safe and accountable advanced practice
- Assesses, diagnoses, plans, implements and evaluates care
- Works in partnership with health consumers
- Works collaboratively with healthcare teams
- Works to improve the quality and outcomes of healthcare
To register as a NP candidates must develop a professional portfolio which provides evidence of how each competency is met. This portfolio is then assessed by a panel of senior NP’s in order for them to progress to the final step of a panel verbal assessment of competence.
Ensuring that nurses are ready for this new scope of practice has been a critical element in the design and application of Nurse Practitioner education. There has been significant work done to streamline and align resources to ensure that there is better equity for nurses pursuing this career path. However, there is a need to identify nurses earlier in their career to ensure that barriers to career progression are minimised and that there is overt support into NP roles.
The key themes in developing senior nurses for the Nurse Practitioner scope of practice involves readiness.
There are 4 key components that provide a clear framework for nurses, academic institutions and organisations to use to support candidates’ preparation for NPTP:
- Clinical readiness
- Organisational readiness
- Academic readiness
- Pastoral readiness
To achieve clinical readiness, nurses need access to clinical roles which can evolve to integrate advanced nursing practice. This is essential to build senior nurse capacity for clinical reasoning, leadership and teaching experience. This includes opportunities to support and promote leadership and teaching opportunities which are often invisible contributions and are reliant on individual drive.
Evidence and experience have shown that nurses who have a well-established relationship with a clinical service for at least a year or more, and who are supported by a senior clinical mentor are better equipped for the rigor of the NPTP as the final year to achieve NCNZ NP competence.
Opportunities to advance clinical skill development and experience is a key foundation stone for getting ready for an extended scope of practice – this is dependent on services facilitating space for skill extension and development of advanced clinical reasoning.
Key strategies to develop readiness:
- In addition to meeting the nursing council eligibility criteria (which is a minimum of three years in an area of practice); we strongly advise working at a senior level for at least 12 months in the service you intend to complete your NPTP year.
- Established clinical relationship with a senior mentor (senior NP or senior doctor) who is familiar with the Nurse practitioner scope of practice as well as understanding the key competencies that the candidate is expected to meet at the end of the programme
- Connection to a NP peer group and/or senior NP to experience and evolve a better understanding of NP level of practice
Health care infrastructures that support and champion the development of Nurse Practitioner roles are vital for the successful establishment of NPs. Significant investment in developing senior nurses prior to their application to NPTP is essential to develop expert clinical skills required to meet NCNZ NP competence.
Identifying those who intend to seek the expansion in clinical practice to NP scope should ideally occur early in the nurses career. Strategic partnership with academic institutions and your clinical leaders will better support applicants’ readiness.
Services that have created stepped career pathways have been successful in developing Nurse Practitioners roles which are responsive to service and population needs.
Services who support NP candidates through the NPTP do well when they:
- Have established a senior clinical role at least 12 months prior to the NPTP which connects interns with a clinical mentor
- Have supported the development of inhouse clinical mentorship
- Are equipped to provide the supernumerary hours as a minimum standard for the duration of the NPTP
- Have a defined Nurse Practitioner position at completion of the NPTP
Nationally approved Nurse Practitioner education programmes seek to identify nurses early in their careers and support academic pathways that develop a systematic approach to aligning their studies and clinical development.
Applicants must achieve a designated GPA and complete an accredited Masters programme by the completion of the NPTP programme.
The following strategies have seen previous candidates thrive:
- Connection to an academic advisor to help plan post-graduate study pathways
- Support to develop academic writing and research skills
- Completion of the core prerequisite courses for NP preparation
- A GPA that reflects mastery of the core skills required by the NP competencies. Universities may differ slightly in exact GPA requirements.
Whānau / Pastoral Readiness
The NPTP year is a rigorous and demanding year. The full support of whanau, workplaces, communities and friends is necessary to provide the support that keeps candidates healthy and productive in their learning. Awareness of the extra burden the NPTP will create is necessary when preparing for the NPTP year.
Previous students have informed us that the following made their journey easier:
- External professional supervision
- Extra support to support personal commitments such as caring for other family members
- Self-care strategies
- Time management skills
Readiness takes time and a plan. To help individuals and organisation prepare for the NPTP programme we have developed readiness audits to highlight potential areas where more growth or development may be necessary. This tool aims to provide a framework for users to illuminate both strengths and gaps with practical advice of how to get ready. Find it here
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