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Alignment of Nurse Practitioner Educational Preparation and Scope of Practice in United States Emergency Departments: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Tener Goodwin Veenema, Roberta P. Lavin, Clifton P. Thornton, Sarah Schneider-Firestone, Stella Seal
Date posted:
August 23, 2021
Publication type:
Journal of Emergency Nursing
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National debate persists surrounding the expanded use of nurse practitioners in the emergency department. Current understanding of the alignment of nurse practitioner educational preparation and practice parameters in United States emergency departments is inchoate. The objective of this review was to seek evidence to support that nurse practitioner education and training align with current practices in the emergency department.


A Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guided systematic review of the existing literature was conducted of 4 relevant databases. Level of evidence and quality assignments were made for each article using Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation or Confidence in Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative Research as appropriate.


Nurse practitioners are increasingly staffing emergency departments, providing care to both patients classified as high-acuity and low-acuity. Reports of nurse practitioner scope of practice vary widely. No studies evaluated alignment of educational preparation and training for actual clinical practice.


This review of the literature was inconclusive, and the review team we was unable to find evidence that supports the alignment of nurse practitioner educational preparation and training with scope of clinical practice in United States emergency departments. Future research should seek to articulate the landscape of nurse practitioner academic preparation for specialty practice in the emergency department and to specifically examine the alignment of educational preparation with scope of practice and impact on clinical outcomes of patients seen in the emergency department.



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