In spite of the long history of nurse practitioner practice in primary healthcare, less is known about nurse practitioners in hospital-based environments because until very recently, they have not been included in the extended class registration (nurse practitioner equivalent) with the College of Nurses of Ontario. Recent changes in the regulation of nurse practitioners in Ontario to include adult, paediatric and anaesthesia, indicates that a workforce review of practice profiles is needed to fully understand the depth and breadth of the role within hospital settings. Here, we present information obtained through a descriptive, self-reported survey of all nurse practitioners working in acute care settings who are not currently regulated in the extended class in Ontario. Results suggest wide acceptance of the role is concentrated around academic teaching hospitals. Continued barriers exist related to legislation and regulation as well as understanding and support for the multiple aspects of this role beyond clinical practice. This information may be used by nurse practitioners, nursing leaders and other administrators to position the role in hospital settings for greater impact on patient care. As well, understanding the need for regulatory and legislative changes to support the hospital-based Nurse Practitioner role will enable greater impact on health human resources and healthcare transformation.
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