Boundary work and the introduction of acute care nurse practitioners in healthcare teams Academic Article uri icon

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  • AIM: This article is a report of a study of boundary work following the introduction of an acute care nurse practitioner role in healthcare teams. BACKGROUND: Acute care nurse practitioners enacting their roles in healthcare teams have faced a number of challenges including a mix of positive and negative views of the acute care nurse practitioner role from healthcare team members and acute care nurse practitioner roles crossing the boundaries between the medical and nursing professions. Understanding the process by which the boundaries between professions changed following the introduction of an acute care nurse practitioner role was important since this could affect scope of practice and the team's ability to give patient care. METHODS: The study was conducted in two university-affiliated teaching hospitals in Canada. A descriptive multiple case study design was used. Data were collected from March to May 2009. RESULTS: Participants (N = 59) described boundary work as a process that included: (1) creating space; (2) loss of a valued function; (3) trust; (4) interpersonal dynamics; and (5) time. The development of trust among team members was essential. The co-location of team members working on common projects, and medical and nursing leadership facilitated boundary work. CONCLUSION: The micro-level processes of boundary work in healthcare teams have important implications for the development of full scope of practice for acute care nurse practitioners, effective inter-professional teamwork and the integration of new roles in healthcare systems. Future research needs to be undertaken in different contexts, and with patients and families.


  • Kilpatrick, Kelley
  • Lavoie-Tremblay, Mélanie
  • Ritchie, Judith A
  • Lamothe, Lise
  • Doran, Diane

publication date

  • July 2012

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