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The Australian Association of Nurse Surgical Assistants (AANSA) recently approached the NMBA requesting endorsement of the specialty/advanced practice nursing role of the NMSA as a means to validate and regulate the role of the nurse as NMSA in Australia.
It is clearly defined in the recent surveys cited here that the levels of education of the nursing based NMSA vary greatly in Australia.
The results of a recent Australian surgeon survey highlight that when surgeons were asked who should govern the role of the NMSA in Australia, an equivalent number thought that AHPRA either via the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia 140(43%) or via the Medical Board of Australia 133(41%) would be applicable (Hains et al 2017b).
While ACORN has a standard for the role of the NMSA (The Australian College of Operating Room Nurses 2015) and RACS has a position statement (Royal Australasian College of Surgeons 2015) for the surgical assistant, these documents are guidelines.
Clearly this is not the case in practice when 24(7%) surgeons are working with an EN as NMSA. Specialty organisations with the best intentions of regulating the specialty area of practice lack the authority to enforce any of their guidelines.
It has been shown that the RN/NP NMSA is cost-effective in the intraoperative phase within the Australian healthcare system.
While professional bodies such as ACORN and RACS have guidance statements on the role of the NMSA in Australia these provide little weight in relation to whom healthcare facilities will let practice the role on a daily basis.
Though AHPRA via the NMBA is reluctant to formally recognise and regulate this role, the overwhelming majority of clinicians in the role of NMSA in Australia are nurses.
The lack of formal regulation of the role of the NMSA in Australia excludes NMSA (including the NP) (Yang and Hains 2017) from access to Medicare and healthcare fund intraoperative reimbursement, thereby rendering a cost-effective role unsustainable to many clinicians.
To ensure advanced practice roles such as that of the NMSA evolve within the nursing domain, the NMBA must recognise and regulate APN roles in addition to the role of the NP in Australia.
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- NMS (national security document)