Irish Emergency Nurses’ Attitudes towards Role Expansion in, and Barriers to, Nurse Prescribing

2019-11-22T18:10:13Z (GMT) by Michele Clancy


This study set out to explore Irish emergency nurses’ attitudes towards nurse prescribing and also to elicit their attitudes towards potential barriers to nurse prescribing.


A quantitative descriptive survey was used to answer the research question, a questionnaire was administered to a systematic random sample of Emergency Department nurses. This consisted of a 31 item Likert-type attitudinal scale, previously developed for a similar study.


Traditionally, the prescription of medications fell strictly within the realm of medicine. However, as nursing practice evolves, roles are beginning to change. Nurse prescribing is an expansion of the traditional nursing role, expanding the primary functions of nurses’ and midwives. When nurse prescribing commenced in Ireland it was initially a specialist nurse who undertook training, this is now beginning to change with staff nurses’ actively participating in prescribing training. The Emergency Department is the fastest growing area in nurse prescribing. Therefore, the writer feels that it is timely to specifically ascertain emergency nurses’ views on nurse prescribing. Identifying emergency nurses’ attitudes towards nurse prescribing, as well as the perceived barriers to role expansion, will inform practice and enable service planning to further develop this role within the Emergency Department.


The findings indicate that overall emergency nurses’ attitudes were positive towards nurse prescribing as a future role expansion. However, in order to successfully implement nurse prescribing the barriers identified need to be addressed in practice.


There is overall support from emergency nurses’ towards nurse prescribing as a future role expansion. Nevertheless, barriers exist in practice and methods to overcome these must be developed. Greater awareness and education is essential to securing support for this role development.