National regulation in Australia: A time for standardisation in roles and titles
Summary Background The past few years has seen a growth in the number of new nursing roles and position titles in many countries, including Australia. The Australian situation is unique due to the lack of professional engagement and debate in determining the purpose of some of these new positions. Often these new roles have been poorly defined, and there is no national consistency in nomenclature. The recent move to a national nursing registration system provides an opportunity for change. Method Discursive paper. Results New roles arise for a number of reasons, including a change in function or title for a pre-existing role or in response to the establishment a completely new position. However, the lack of a co-ordinated approach to introduction of new roles may lead to role proliferation (the rapid increase or spread of new positions and position titles), role blurring (where the boundaries of different positions become less distinct) and role confusion (where both nurses and health system clients experience a lack of clarity regarding the precise scope of roles). Conclusion Professional nursing practice is defined by the impact on patient outcomes, not by position titles. As such, the potential positive impact of a new role on patient outcomes should be the primary consideration when considering its introduction. National regulation of the profession provides an opportunity for the profession to debate and determine some consistency in position titles, responsibilities and areas of specialty practice.