Comparative Theories of the Expanded Role in Nursing and Implications for Nursing Practice: A Working Paper

F. Moyra Allen


During recent years in the development of health services in Canada and the United States, much emphasis has been placed on the "expanding role" of the nurse. The nature of this expansion seems to take on different characteristics depending upon which health professionals instigate the role innovation and what their views of nursing are.
The Research Unit in Nursing and Health Care at McGill is studying nursing as it is carried out in several settings where different perceptions of an expanded nursing role are being implemented. A basic assumption, developed in the paper that follows, is that this expansion is perceived in one of two ways - as a replacement function or as a complemental function, relative to the knowledge and skills of other health professionals, e.g. the physician. For each approach, characteristic notions of health and nursing practice are described. The research is directed towards demonstrating that differing approaches to nursing yield differing outcomes for individuals/families. This working paper presents the theoretical underpinnings of our ongoing research project.

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