On 5 November 2021, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) published updated information about the transition to retirement of the Endorsement for scheduled medicines for registered nurses (rural and isolated practice), also known as the RIP endorsement.
Under the changes, aspiring rural and isolated practice registered nurses (RIPRN) will no longer apply to the NMBA for endorsement. Future RIPRNs will instead be subject to new Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations and Victorian Health Secretary approval under the protocols of their health service.
The relevant amendments to the regulations were finalised in December 2021, and the changes are expected to take effect from February 2022. Under the new model, health service employers will be responsible for ensuring RIPRNs are practising in line with the new secretary approval conditions around education, duration and location of practice, and types of medications that can be administered.
Registered nurses wanting to become a RIPRN must demonstrate clinical experience of:
- working as a registered nurse, for a minimum of one year, in a three-year period, at two days per week (0.42 FTE) or more
- at least one year working in an urgent, emergency or critical care setting, or one year working in a rural or rural isolated practice setting.
Health services employing RIPRNs must keep records of experience and employment that demonstrate:
- assessment of the competence of the registered nurse
- an organisational list or register of each RIPRN is kept current
- RIPRN practices are in accordance with the approval of the Department of Health Secretary and in accordance with local policy and relevant professional standards.
Prior to the changes, to work as a rural and isolated practice endorsed registered nurse (RIPERN), nurses were required to complete a course in rural scheduled medicines practice. Practice was limited to rural/bush nursing centres and hospital emergency departments. RIPERNs referred to the Primary Clinical Care Manual to inform their scheduled medicines practice.
From October 2021, existing RIPERNs had their qualification ‘grandfathered’. They are now automatically referred to as a RIPRN. Existing RIPERNs do not have to requalify or prove their experience, and their day-to-day practice and delivery of health care remain unchanged. But nurses, and the employing health service, must maintain records regarding the RIPERN’s completion of course, experience and employment.
The changes come after NMBA consultations with the nursing profession since 2016 about the removal of RIPRN endorsement. They will bring Victoria into line with other states and territories, ensuring national consistency to RN medicines practice and reducing regulation at a national level.