Background and aims: How far is too far? Recent government policy and demographic growth have led to role changes within the professions in emergency care. Healthcare professionals have extended and expanded their scopes of practice to include duties outside their traditional role boundary. Nurses in particular are able to see and treat patients more independently. These expanded roles mean there is growing overlap between professional roles and responsibilities and one wonders—how far is too far? Where should role expansion cease? The aim of this research was to explore the perceptions of the professions on their current and future roles in emergency care.
Methods: A qualitative design, utilising semistructured interviews was employed. Eight respondents, including doctors and nurses of all grades, were purposefully sampled from an emergency department within a large UK teaching hospital.
Results: Content analysis revealed five key themes: role boundaries; driving forces; managing risk; training and future professional roles.
Conclusions: Of genuine concern to the respondents was the lack of standardisation within the expansion of healthcare roles. In terms of “how far is too far”, the respondents believed that greater clarification of training and scope of practice is required, enabling clinical roles to develop more consistently.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Ethics approval: Approval was obtained from the relevant Local Research Ethics and the Research and Development Committees. Written consent was received from each participant.
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