Author(s): Toren O, Nirel N, Tsur Y, Lipschuetz M, Toker A
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Medical and technological developments, financial constraints and a shortage of physicians have made it necessary to re-examine professional boundaries between physicians and nurses. Israel's manpower shortage in Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) has changed the responsibility and authority of nurses. However, these changes have not evolved into a uniform policy defining the division of responsibility between physicians and nurses. This study was designed to examine the work processes and actual division of labor between NICU physicians and nurses; the attitude of physicians and nurses to greater empowerment of the nursing role; and to suggest a model to regulate work processes and develop the role of neonatal nurse specialists in NICUs. METHODS: Open interviews with NICU physician-directors and head nurses and a cross-sectional survey of some 50\% of the physicians and nurses at 22 hospital NICUs (N = 430). RESULTS: Main problems of NICUs: physician shortage, deficient infrastructures, fragmented work processes. Nurses do not perform many practices allowed to them due to the need for organizational approval and their own unawareness. Conversely, they sometimes conduct procedures and make decisions outside of their authority. Most physicians agree that nurse graduates of Post-Basic Education training (PBE) should be authorized to independently perform such activities as resuscitation and medication balancing while reserving invasive procedures for physicians. It is widely agreed that broadening the authority of nurses would improve the quality of NICU care even though it would increase the nursing workload. CONCLUSIONS: The study provides important input into decisions about authorizing nurses over complete practice areas rather than isolated activities; the need to remove institutional restrictions on tasks currently permitted to nurses; introducing teamwork from within the NICUs, and expanding nursing decision-making. The study reveals that there is a basis on which to to build the role of the neonatal nurse,since most NICU nurses have the suitable academic and clinical training.
This article was published in Isr J Health Policy Res
and referenced in Journal of Perioperative & Critical Intensive Care Nursing