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The evolving role of the acute care nurse practitioner in critical care

Howie-Esquivel, Jill; Fontaine, Dorrie K

Current Opinion in Critical Care: December 2006 - Volume 12 - Issue 6 - p 609–613
doi: 10.1097/MCC.0b013e32800ff256
Ethical, legal and organizational issues in the intensive care unit

Purpose of review The newest nurse practitioner role is the acute care nurse practitioner. This paper presents the latest data on the role from both a US and international perspective.

Recent findings Now present in the USA for at least 15 years, the acute care nurse practitioner role has become well established in critical care settings and is moving into international healthcare. The few outcome studies conducted to date demonstrate the acute care nurse practitioner provides quality patient and family care, improves patient satisfaction, is cost effective, and is an answer to the hospital's shortage of medical residents with new restrictions on working hours.

Summary The role of acute care nurse practitioners in critical care is increasing worldwide. Most countries are experimenting with this latest nurse practitioner as an extended-role healthcare provider with many potential benefits to patients and their families, as well as the healthcare system.

School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

Correspondence to Dorrie K. Fontaine RN, DNSc, FAAN, Associate Dean and Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco, School of Nursing, San Francisco, CA 94143-0604, USA Tel: +1 415 476 9710; fax: +1 415 476 9707; e-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.