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On-line version ISSN 2223-6279
Print version ISSN 0379-8577

Curationis vol.32 n.3 Pretoria  2009




Clinical skills required of ophthalmic nurse practitioners in tertiary level public hospitals in the Western Cape Province



U KyriacosI; LD ScheepersII; EW HillIII; S JordanIV

IMSc (Nursing) (UCT). Senior Lecturer, Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Cape Town
IIPostgraduate Diploma in Nursing (UCT), RN, RM. Chief Professional Nurse, Eye Clinic, Eerste Rivier Hospital, Cape Town
IIIPostgraduate Diploma in Nursing (UCT), RN, RM. Chief Professional Nurse, Eye Outpatient Department, Groote Schuur Hospital, Observatory, Cape Town
IVMB.BCh., PhD., PGCE (FE). Reader, School of Health Science, Swansea University, Wales, United Kingdom





BACKGROUND: South Africa has a 32-year history of training ophthalmic nurse practitioners (ONPs). The role and required skills and competencies of ONPs are not well documented in the international literature and are also absent from South African publications, including South African Nursing Council publications.
AIM: This study aims to inform curriculum development and human resource planning by reporting on the clinical skills expected of ONPs by members of multidisciplinary ophthalmology teams.
METHOD: A limited survey was undertaken in the ophthalmology wards and outpatient departments of three tertiary level hospitals in the Western Cape Province. A researcher-designed structured self-completion questionnaire was distributed to 30 ophthalmology practitioners: doctors, nurses and technicians. Respondents were asked to indicate the expected clinical skills of ONPs.
FINDINGS: All questionnaires were completed. All respondents favoured ONPs taking histories and performing emergency eye irrigations. There was less support for more complex procedures, such as B-scans. One-third of respondents did not expect ONPs to have skills in eight key areas, including examination of the anterior chamber angle for glaucoma. No statistically significant differences were found between responses of doctors and nurses, with one exception: more nurses (15/18) than doctors (4/10) had confidence in the ONP undertaking basic eye examinations for ocular motility (Fisher 's exact test, P=0.035).
CONCLUSION: In the study settings, ONPs are not using their specialist skills to the full. Not all practitioners were receptive to ONPs using the skills that they had acquired during their postgraduate diploma, threatening the educational effectiveness of this initiative.

Key words: ophthalmic nurse practitioners; clinical skills; post-registration/continuing education; expanded roles; tertiary level nursing care



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U Kyriacos
Faculty of Health Sciences
School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Division of Nursing & Midwifery Old Main Building
Groote Schuur Hospital Observatory, 7925
Telephone: (021) 406-6401; Fax:(021)406-6323

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