Nurse practitioner role in Kenya

Document Type

Book Chapter




Sophia L. Thomas, Jackie S. Rowles

Publication (Name of Journal)

Nurse Practitioners and Nurse Anesthetists: The Evolution of the Global Roles


School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Springer, Cham


Changes in demographics and epidemiology of diseases have increased the demand for quality health services in Kenya. Prevalent communicable diseases and a rapid increase in non-communicable diseases and injuries strain an already burdened health system. There is also a disproportionate and unequal distribution of healthcare workers. For instance, most clinical services are available in major cities while most of the population living in rural areas continues to have unequal access to care. Like most African countries, nurses have been practicing at advanced levels regardless of their defined role, formal graduate education, or license due to a lack of other qualified clinicians. To understand the development and current status of the nurse practitioner role in Kenya, this chapter reviews the historical context and influential drivers for the development of advanced practice nursing (APN), from the initiation of the master’s level, advanced practice nursing program to the launching of the Scope of Practice for Advanced Practice Nurse–Nurse Practitioner in 2022. This chapter highlights how advanced practice has steadily evolved in Kenya. Several influential factors have facilitated the development of the nurse practitioner role, including the need to meet the universal health coverage goal by 2030. Given the progress made, including implementing an international standard curriculum and formulating the scope of practice for nurse practitioners, the future of APNs in Kenya is promising. However, more needs to be done to institutionalize the role, including formalizing prescription authority and evaluating nurse practitioner educational programs and the effectiveness of the role in improving health outcomes.