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Legislative hegemony and nurse practitioner practice in rural and remote Australia
journal contributionposted on 19.08.2019, 00:00 by Clare Harvey
Nurse practitioners were introduced into Australia in 1990 to improve access to health care in isolated communities where medical doctors are scarce. The slow uptake of nurse practitioners in these areas has largely been the result of legislation not affording them access to provider numbers through the Medicare Australia Act 1973. This has denied nurse practitioners the opportunity to become primary care providers because they cannot prescribe medications and order diagnostic tests at rebated costs. Recently this Act changed, making provision for nurse practitioners. Ironically the enactment of the new legislation still prevents nurse practitioners from practicing effectively. This paper describes the discursive practices in legislation, driven by traditional power brokers, which perpetuate the traditional role of nurses as care givers and fails to support the evolution of nurse practitioners as care providers. These continued practices effectively prevent nurse practitioners from working to their potential, despite government reassurance under recent health care reform in Australia.