Educational role of nurse practitioners in a family practice centre: perspectives of learners and nurses.
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OBJECTIVE: To examine the role of nurse practitioners (NPs) as educators of family medicine residents in order to better understand the interprofessional educational dynamics in a clinical teaching setting. DESIGN: A qualitative descriptive approach, using purposive sampling. SETTING: A family practice centre that is associated with an academic department of family medicine and is based in an urban area in southern Ontario. PARTICIPANTS: First-year (8 of 9) and second-year (9 of 10) family medicine residents whose training program was based at the family practice centre, and all NPs (4 of 4) who worked at the centre. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted, which were audiotaped and transcribed. An iterative approach was used for coding and analysis. Data management software guided organization and analysis of the data. MAIN FINDINGS: Four interconnected themes were identified: role clarification, professional identity formation, factors that enhance the educational role of NPs, and factors that limit the educational role of NPs. Although residents recognized NPs' value in team functioning and areas of specialized knowledge, they were unclear about NPs' scope of practice. Depending on residents' level of training, residents tended to respond differently to teaching by NPs. More of the senior residents believed they needed to think like physicians and preferred clinical teaching from physician teachers. Junior residents valued the step-by-step instructional approach used by NPs, and they had a decreased sense of vulnerability when being taught by NPs. Training in teaching skills was helpful for NPs. Barriers to providing optimal education included opportunity, time, and physician attitudes. CONCLUSION: The lack of an intentional orientation of family medicine residents to NPs' scope of practice and educational role can lead to difficulties in interprofessional education. More explicit recognition of the evolving professional identity of family medicine residents might decrease resistance to teaching by NPs and ensure that interprofessional teaching and learning strategies are effective. Faculty development opportunities for all educators are required to manage these issues, both to ensure teaching competencies and to reinforce positive interprofessional collaboration.
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