Scope of Practice

What is a scope of practice?

A scope of practice is an outline of the health services or tasks commonly performed by a group of health practitioners.

Responsible Authorities also need to prescribe qualifications for every scope of practice.

They must do these two tasks in consultation with the profession that is covered by the regulation and all other stakeholders in the sector.

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How does a scope of practice differ from ‘authority to practice’?

Scope of practice Authority to practice

These are the health services that the registered practitioners deliver. The scopes would be relatively broad - the Responsible Authority would set more than one scope of practice to cover all those who are registered.

This is set individually by the employer to enable clinical people at certain levels of practice to supply or administer prescription medicines to patients and use certain equipment.

The practitioner may work across the whole scope, (unless they have conditions on their practice) – but they must make sure they are competent to do this work.

It is the authority to use standing orders and what each person can do under those standing orders. The person must work within their authority to practice.

Set by the responsible authority after consultation with the sector.

Set by the employer.

Would be linked to a qualification.

Granted at each practice level and is aligned with the training the person has received.

If the Responsible Authority is concerned about a practitioner’s competence it may limit the scope by placing ‘conditions’ on the practitioner’s practice, such as that the practitioner must work under supervision or may not do some tasks. The Responsible Authority must consult the practitioner before doing this.

The employer can change the Authority to Practice and/or the standing orders. Standing orders would continue for most ambulance officers and medics if registration went ahead. (Eventually, some registered practitioners may be able to prescribe therefore they would not need to operate under standing orders).

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How would the scope of practice be defined?

The Responsible Authority must set one or more scopes of practice which can be described in any way it thinks fit and includes any one or more of the following ways:

  • a name or form of words that is commonly understood by the people who work in the health sector, or
  • an area of science or learning, or
  • tasks commonly performed, or
  • illnesses or conditions to be diagnosed, treated, or managed.

While the Responsible Authority would set the scope or scopes it would be sensible if this built on the work currently being done by the National Clinical Leadership Group.

If only certain groups of ambulance officers and NZDF medics were to become professionally registered, the scope will need to define this group carefully and link it to an appropriate qualification(s).

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