Enablers and barriers to registered nurses expanding their scope of practice in Australia: A cross-sectional study Academic Article uri icon


  • A number of resources exist to assist registered nurses in Australia to determine their scope of practice; however, the ability of a professional nurse to expand his or her practice is highly context dependent. This article reports on barriers and enablers to expanding scope of practice, as identified by registered nurses across Australia. A cross-sectional survey administered online in 2016 returned 1,205 useable submissions. Results indicated that nurses wishing to expand their practice felt supported to do so by nursing colleagues and were aware of professional and regulatory documents relating to expanding scope of practice. Less support for this process was evident from other health professionals or employers. Respondents also indicated that they were motivated to expand their scope by professional satisfaction, potential for career advancement, and the desire to meet health service user's needs. The majority of respondents identified barriers to expanding scope of practice, including lack of remuneration and the absence of supportive guidelines. Respondents in the early stage of their careers were more likely to perceive organizational support for expanding their scope of practice. When required to expand their role, the majority of respondents indicated that they had undertaken additional training or accessed various resources to guide them in this process. Barriers to expanding nursing scope of practice can result in underutilization of the one of the greatest resources in the health care system. This article identifies a number of strategies that can facilitate role expansion to ensure that nursing continues to make a significant contribution to positive health service outcomes in Australia.

publication date

  • 2019