The role of nurse practitioners in health sector reform in Iran (2011)

Soudabe Vatankhah, Nader Khalesi, Farbod Ebadifardazar, Masoud Ferdousi, Homayon Naji, Seyed Mohammad Ehsaan Farahabadi


Background: Most countries use educated nurses called “nurse practitioners” (NPs) besides the family physicians for diagnosis, treatment, and specifically health education of the family. The main goal of this study was to redefine the role of NPs for better use of their capabilities in the so-called “family physician reform” in Iran.

Materials and Methods: This is a qualitative and comparative study carried out in three stages (triangulation method) in 2011. In the first stage, we conducted a literature review to design a conceptual framework. The second stage was a comparative study on four countries. In this study, we focused on the role of NPs, which in turn helped to redefine this role in the health sector reform of Iran. In the third stage, two expert panels were involved and the suggested roles were confirmed.

Results: In the United States, NPs are licensed by the state in which they practice and have a national board certification. In Canada, nurses involved in clinics should participate in specific training course of diagnosis and management of health care after registration. In Austria, nurses in Nursing homes and maternity do some of the medical procedures under the supervision of the physicians. In the United Kingdom, NPs increasingly substitute for GPs in the care of minor illness and routine management of chronic diseases.

Conclusions: There is still debate in nursing and medical circles about what the focus of the NP roles should be. In Iran, whereas a noticeable reform toward “family physician” is ongoing, redefining the nurses’ role is essential. They can perform more active roles in associating with GPs in the clinics of family physicians, both in urban and rural areas, even with higher degrees of autonomy.

Key words: General practitioner, health care sector, Iran, nurse practitioner, reform

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