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Introduction A continuing shift of healthcare delivery from hospital to the community has increased the acuity and complexity of care provided in the home. Global financial crises and nursing shortages have prompted policies supporting two tiers of nursing and expansion of the licensed practical nurse, second level or enrolled nurse role and evoked debate surrounding roles traditionally undertaken by registered nurses. Community nursing offers unique challenges for enrolled nurses wanting to enact their full scope of practice. Aim To compare and describe registered and enrolled nurse opinions of their current and potential enrolled nurse scope of practice in the community health setting. Methods A cross-sectional survey of 136 nurses (115 registered and 21 enrolled nurses) was undertaken within a large community nursing team in Australia. Participants reported their opinions of enrolled nurse scope of practice based on 27 core community nursing skills. Results Although substantial agreement was evident, there were statistically significant differences between registered nurse and enrolled nurse opinions in core skill areas; ‘Patient Education’ and ‘Clinical Observation’. Registered nurses identified some specialized skills—catheter and gastrostomy care—that could be undertaken by enrolled nurses with further education. Conclusion We confirm that registered nurses do agree with extending the skills of enrolled nurses. Education approaches that build shared confidence in enrolled nurse advanced skills are recommended.

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Journal Article

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