The Integration and Impact of Nurse Practitioners on Team Function

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mary H. van Soeren, RN, PhD
Canadian Health Care Innovations, Guelph, ON, Canada
Christina Hurlock-Chorostecki
Transition Care Unit, St. Joseph's Health Care Parkwood Hospital, London, ON, Canada
Scott Reeves
Centre for Faculty Development, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Chris Kenaszchuk
Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, Toronto, ON, Canada

Learning Objective 1: identify outcomes of the NP role in enhancing team function.

Learning Objective 2: identify NP role attributes that improve access to care for patients.

Current health care changes are moving towards a greater need to improve team function and evidence-based practices in hospital environments. This enhances full utilization of all professional roles and increases patient safety through improved communication and research based practices. Standardization of practices, early utilization of new knowledge to improve outcomes and redistribution of the team so the right person is providing the right care at the right time are all desirable to improve health human resource utilization. The Nurse Practitioner (NP) role may be pivotal in this process. In a recent pilot study we found the NP role to be one that improves quality and continuity of care, focuses on professional nursing issues, improves communication and collaboration, focuses on evidence-based medicine, enhances teaching, and provides a holistic approach which is detail oriented and patient-centred. Currently we are evaluating the NP role in hospitals across Ontario, Canada to describe the impact of the role across different clinical settings. Approximately 10 percent of all NPs working in specialty settings in the province have been involved in a prospective study to investigate role integration, team function and the impact of the NP role on the patient experience. Using quantitative and qualitative methods we will describe how role implementation influences team function and collaboration. Patient perceptions of the NP role regarding improved access to and coordination of care will be shared. We will discuss the impact of the NP role beyond the medical management of patients and include the nature of their interprofessional relations as well as methods to improve resource utilization of these nurses. Implementations for the development of the NP role will also be outlined.