Informal Role Expansion in Australian Mental Health Nursing

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PURPOSEThis study aims to determine the extent to which community mental health nurses are currently practicing beyond the traditional scope of nursing practice.DESIGN AND METHODSA self-administered questionnaire was distributed to community mental health nurses in Victoria, Australia.FINDINGSThe majority of participants reported routine involvement in practices that would normally be considered beyond the scope of nursing practice, such as prescribing, ordering diagnostic tests, and referral to specialists.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONSThe extent to which the current mental health service system is dependent upon nurses transgressing professional and legal boundaries warrants further study. Psychiatrists and community mental health nurses need to work collaboratively to understand their respective knowledge and skills and to be clear about how they take responsibility for client care.

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