This study presents information, obtained from health service managers, on the present use and possible future use of second level nurses within the region encompassing the Wanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Tararua, Palmerston North City and Horowhenua districts. “ Second level nurses” are currently known as enrolled nurses and, in accordance with Section 53A of the 1983 Amendment to the Nurses Act, are required to work under the direction and supervision of registered nurses or medical practitioners. Enrolled nurses are usually allocated less responsibility for nursing assessment and judgement than registered nurses.Management perspectives, from seventy seven health workforce managers, were sought in relation to the future workforce need, the scope and boundaries of practice, and the alternatives for the future educational preparation of second level nurses. Seventy two percent of managers said that they thought enrolled nurses were essential to New Zealand's future nursing workforce. They predicted increased opportunities for enrolled nurses in care of the elderly and community care settings. Patterns in the current workforce utilization of enrolled nurses, however, did not support these views.In relation to the education of enrolled nurses, managers indicated that hospital-based training was the most preferred option. However, managers asserted that, in view of the current lack of employment opportunities no more enrolled nurses should be prepared at the present time.Although questions about education were focussed on the educational preparation of enrolled nurses, many of the respondent managers also expressed opinions about the educational preparation of comprehensive nurses. As a result, an evaluation of comprehensive nursing programmes is suggested.While the numbers of second level nurses being prepared and used is decreasing, there is a concomitant increase in the preparation and use of caregivers. This rapidly increasing group isfast becoming a “cheaper” second level workforce. The increase in the use of caregivers is seen to result from the pressure on healthcare employers to reduce spending within the current highly competitive, de-regulated economy. Managers asserted that enrolled nurses are not cost effective in comparison with either caregivers or registered nurses.The study concludes with thirteen recommendations which are made under the following four groups;
1. Manawatu Polytechnic – provider of nursing education.
2. Healthcare employers – users of nursing education.
3. Enrolled nurses – participants in nursing education.
4. Professional nursing bodies – guardians of nursing education