Role of the registered nurse in primary health care: Meeting health care needs in the 21st century

Janice Smolowitz, Elizabeth Speakman, Danuta Wojnar, Ellen Marie Whelan, Suzan Ulrich, Carolyn Hayes, Laura Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


There is widespread interest in the redesign of primary health care practice models to increase access to quality health care. Registered nurses (RNs) are well positioned to assume direct care and leadership roles based on their understanding of patient, family, and system priorities. This project identified 16 exemplar primary health care practices that used RNs to the full extent of their scope of practice in team-based care. Interviews were conducted with practice representatives. RN activities were performed within three general contexts: episodic and preventive care, chronic disease management, and practice operations. RNs performed nine general functions in these contexts including telephone triage, assessment and documentation of health status, chronic illness case management, hospital transition management, delegated care for episodic illness, health coaching, medication reconciliation, staff supervision, and quality improvement leadership. These functions improved quality and efficiency and decreased cost. Implications for policy, practice, and RN education are considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-136
Number of pages7
JournalNursing Outlook
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • Primary care
  • Primary health care
  • Registered nurse


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of the registered nurse in primary health care: Meeting health care needs in the 21st century'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this