Nurse practitioner (NP) - a role introduced to New Zealand in 2001 yet there is only one in the Whanganui region.
Jane Dutton obtained her NP certificate in August 2015 and in July 2016 she became a practising partner at local Castlecliff Health.
It took Ms Dutton eight years to acquire her NP certificate. Following the required requisites she completed her three year undergraduate course and later a two year Masters in nursing. After gaining authorisation from a registered practitioner she submitted a portfolio to the Nursing Council at a one day panel of "grilling questions".
With an advanced nursing knowledge the title allows her to work independently and in collaboration with other health professionals.
Professor of nursing at Palmerston North Massey University, Jenny Carryer, said there is no difference between what a general practitioner (GP) and a NP can practice.
"An NP can offer the same level of prescriptions and see the same groups of patients," Professor Carryer said.
Ms Dutton said there is a lack of understanding from some GP's and other professions about what the NP role entails.
"There was a deficit of authorised practitioners who weren't willing [to register training NP's] because they didn't understand the role so they felt direct competition," Ms Dutton said.
Ms Dutton said she was lucky to have local GP Dr Ponnampalam Saravanapavan register her allowing her to progress further in her health profession. She said she was also lucky her employer Dr Praveen Thadigiri, owner and GP of Castlecliff Health, took her on as a NP.
"My role is to support a GP and offer a nursing perspective....our training isn't in debt of a GP," Ms Dutton said.
Dr Thandigiri said being one of the younger GPs in Whanganui he welcomed the new opportunity take on a NP.
"Jane has been dedicated in the community and over two years we forged a bond...GPs cannot operate alone and I think the role is important and growing,
"We are trying to push one of our other nurses to get their NP certificate and we are also pushing Jane to mentor other nurses," Dr Thandigiri said.
While the NP role is still relatively new to New Zealand it existed in other countries for many years prior. There are now NPs in over 40 countries, among them Australia, England, Ireland, USA and Canada.
Professor Carryer was a key member in launching the NP role in New Zealand after extensive research in the international benefits.
"International research showed a strong and exciting outcome after the role of NP was introduced. There are continual workforce challenges in health in New Zealand which was another reason for introducing NPs," Professor Carryer said.
There are now over 200 NPs in New Zealand and Professor Carryer said numbers will continue to grow.
"There is a massive shortage of GPs in New Zealand and it is becoming easier for NPs to practice so numbers of registered NPs will continue to grow,
"Over the years since NP was introduced in New Zealand legislative obstacles are slowing breaking down...for example NPs can now sign death certificate," Professor Carryer said.
Ms Dutton advises nurses contemplating NP training to get their employer onboard before taking any action.
On February 6 Castlecliff Health will open an after hours, three hours a day over the weekend and public holidays.