In the 1990s, there was a growing interest and need for more postgraduate education to allow for the development of advanced nursing roles.
Nurses without an undergraduate degree wanted the opportunity to gain postgraduate qualifications. Initially, the main focus of the School of Nursing at the University of Auckland was to be on postgraduate education.
Nurse leaders had seen the success of advanced nursing roles overseas, some of the roles that were being discussed were Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Prescribers.
"I had been over to America several times to look at the Nurse Practitioner roles and I knew we needed advanced nursing roles, so that was all part of the mix. We needed the support for nurses to be independent in their clinical practice and leadership."
Director of Nursing, Auckland District Health Board (1999-2002)
Postgraduate education for nurses in New Zealand already existed but had not been growing at a rate that would allow for advanced roles to develop quickly. Nurse leaders wanted nurses to have the opportunity to develop their skills and knowledge with further education that would also allow them to gain formalised qualifications. This would also give nurses the ability to work more independently. The University of Auckland provided a place where nursing students could receive education from experts in other medical professions.
"What nurses were really desperate for was postgraduate education. And they wanted to be, or they needed to be, people like Mia Carroll knew, they needed to be educated alongside the specialists. Nurses were working as specialists in various fields but without the education."
Associate Dean (Education), Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences (2002-2004)
Advanced nursing roles also allowed nurses to make a more significant impact on health care and help to address population health needs. It was believed at the time that there were many things nurses could be doing that would free up their medical colleagues so that patients could be seen at a faster rate and receive a higher quality of care.
The University of Auckland was an ideal place to introduce postgraduate education. Having a School of Medicine and School of Pharmacy meant there would be access to academic staff who would be able to contribute to postgraduate teaching and deliver a high level of education to nurses moving into advanced roles.
"I am very proud of what the school has achieved in terms of the postgraduate programme. The Nurse Practitioners that are coming out are truly, I think, impacting positively on patient care and outcomes and making a difference and they are a truly valued part of the workforce nowadays and I have heard doctors say we need more of them."
Clinical Nurse Educator, Department of Emergency Medicine, Auckland City Hospital