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Nurs Leadersh (Tor Ont). 2008;21(1):58-71.

Nursing workforce utilization: an examination of facilitators and barriers on scope of practice.

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Health Systems and Workforce Research Unit, Calgary Health Region, Calgary, AB.


Several reports have highlighted the need to address underutilization of health human resources, but barriers to and facilitators of role optimization for nurses are poorly understood. The purpose in this study was to understand the perceptions of nurses - Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs) and Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPNs) - of the extent to which they can work to full scope of practice and identify barriers and facilitators in optimizing their roles. As part of a mixed-methods study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 167 acute care nurses (RNs, LPNs, RPNs and nurse managers) in three western Canadian health regions. Approximately 48% of all nurses interviewed felt they were working to full scope, at least some of the time. Barriers to working to full scope included heavy workload, high patient acuity, lack of time, poor communication and ineffective teamwork. Identified facilitators were working as a team, management and leadership support and support for continuing education. Barriers need to be addressed in light of nursing shortages, as these are closely related to job satisfaction and directly affect the retention and recruitment of all groups of nurses. Policies and strategies based on these findings must be developed to ensure that nurses can work to their full scope of practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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