Author Credentials

Toni Hains RN MClinSc (PNSA) MNPractSt, PhD Scholar

Catherine Smith RN GradDipClinSc (PNSA) MNPractSt


Discussion around the scope of practice of all nurse practitioners (NPs) in Australia was a component of the recent review of NPs’ eligibility to have broader access to the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS). This review process has been prolonged and, while the MBS review officially concluded on the 30 June 2020, no information regarding decisions about expanded NP access to the MBS for patient rebates had been disclosed at the time of publication. It is anticipated that the MBS review will contribute little change to NP access to the MBS.

The MBS is the primary funding process for private-sector medical services in Australia and is a barrier to the scope of practice of Australian NPs. Specifically, in the perioperative setting the lack of access to the ‘assistance at operations’ MBS item numbers limits the NP’s scope of practice as it leaves the private sector surgical patient out-of-pocket when an NP provides surgical assisting services. This discussion paper considers the international non-medical surgical assistant experience and relates this to the Australian context exploring the complexities associated with the term advanced practice nursing, regulation of the NP compared to other clinicians, and the matters of funding and protectionism in the perioperative space.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.