Educators' expectations of roles, employability and career pathways of registered and enrolled nurses in Australia
School of Nursing and Midwifery
In Australia, like other countries, two levels of nurse are registered for entry to practice. Educational changes for second level nurses in Australia have led to questions regarding roles and career options. This paper reports on interviews with nursing course coordinators to examine educator expectations of roles and career pathways of registered and enrolled nurses. Coordinators of eight degree (registered) and diploma (enrolled) nursing programs were interviewed to determine their opinions on roles and careers that students were prepared for. Transcripts were thematically analysed.Educators reported similar graduate roles, although high acuity care was primarily the role of registered nurses. Career expectations differed with enrolled nurses having limited advancement opportunity, and registered nurses greater career options. Health organisations were unprepared to accommodate increased practice scope of enrolled nurses and limited work practice through policies stipulating who could perform procedures. Organisational health policies need to accommodate increased enrolled nurse skill base. Education of practising nurses is necessary regarding increased scope of enrolled nurse practice to ensure they are used to their full potential. Increasing patient acuity requires more registered nurses, as enrolled nurses are unprepared to care for complex or deteriorating patients.