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June 18, 2024

Primary care nurses supported in community

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Luke Elias, Director Primary Care Impact and Partnerships, Healthy North Coast. Rowena Terone, Primary Health Coordinator (Northern Rivers), Healthy North Coast, Kelly Towns, Practice Manager, Evans Head Medical Center, Brooke Fresen, Amanda Moss, Karen Booth, Monika Wheeler, Sue Brady, RN at The Lismore Clinic, Jodie McLean, Practice Manager at Lismore Clinic. Photo supplied

Health services, particularly GP services, have been stretched over recent years and new funding to support nurses and build their capability as primary care nurses on the North Coast.

Healthy North Coast has launched two programs that aim to support, develop and upskill nurses in their delivery of quality health care to their communities. Healthy North Coast is partnering with the Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) in co-sponsoring 13 practices from across the region in the ‘Building Nurse Capacity’ program, and eight nurses in the ‘Transition to Practice Program’.

Amanda Moss, Practice Manager/RN at Evans Head Medical Centre and TPP mentor
Karen Booth, Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) President
Brooke Fresen, RN at The Lismore Clinic and TPP student
Monika Wheeler, CEO Healthy North Coast. Photo supplied

The Building Nurse Capacity program will support nurses to develop nurse-delivered, team based models of care – also known as nurse clinics. The Transition to Practice Program will support nurses who have transitioned to primary health care and provide them with additional assistance, including mentoring, exclusive education tools and resources, and networking opportunities.

‘We have so many amazing nurses in our region doing wonderful work in their practices and communities,’ said Monika Wheeler, CEO of Healthy North Coast.

‘These sponsorships are helping to build nurse capacity and empower our nurse workforce to work to their top of scope – putting all their knowledge and skills learned to work when they are delivering care to patients. This will ultimately support better health outcomes for North Coast residents. 

Building nursing capacity within the community Photo supplied

‘Nurse-led clinics will also relieve some of the pressure on our GP workforce which has experienced significant strain in recent years.’

New Transition to Practice Program students and Building Nurse Capacity programs will be based throughout the Mid North Coast and Northern NSW regions, and focus on a range of key priority health areas such as cardiovascular health, diabetes, cancer control, mental health and injury prevention and control.

Karen Booth, President of APNA, who was in Lismore on Tuesday for the program launch, added her enthusiasm in seeing the sponsorships underway on the North Coast.

‘We know that building capacity in the primary health care nursing workforce has great flow on effects. Strengthening skills and supporting nurses, especially in nurse-led care helps to not only support the GP teams that they work with, but also shares the workload and increases access to care for our communities,’ she said. 

‘We also know that the APNA Transition to Professional Program supports nurses to build their career path and aides recruitment and retention of nurses new to primary health care. APNA is delighted to be partnering with Healthy North Coast on these great new initiatives.’

Monika Wheeler, CEO Healthy North Coast. Photo supplied

Healthy North Coast and APNA are equally co-sponsoring the successful 2024 TPP students with $8,500 each, with no out-of-pocket expenses for the students, while participating practices in the BNC program will receive $7,500 each in a similar co-sponsorship arrangement. Overall, the total funding is $331,000 split equally between APNA and Healthy North Coast contributing $165,500 each. 

Amanda Moss who is curently mentoring two nurses said ‘I am able to offer advice but also be a sounding board for any ideas or questions they have. This initiative will be extremely valuable in supporting new nurses in primary health especially nurses who are working as a sole nurse in rural or remote practices.’ 

Undergraduate Registered Nurse, Brooke Fresen, said that primary health is not promoted at university. I thought my only option was hospital-based nursing but acute care/ ward nursing wasn’t my passion.

‘I was lucky enough to start at the Lismore Clinic as an Assistant in Nursing and Receptionist. This felt right especially with the supportive team and great mentors. Now as a new graduate Registered Nurse I was looking to expand my knowledge and increase my confidence in my new role. I have now started the transition program and I am finding it very helpful in cementing my knowledge.’

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