10 November 2014

Dear members,

Congratulations to all the parents who have survived this year’s round of the higher school certificate. My twins are in that group and are getting ready to move on to the next stage of their lives. I have to say I will not miss making school lunches. Just before we move on, and I don’t want to panic you, but it is only six weeks until Christmas!

By the time Christmas comes along, the APNA team will have more than earned a good rest. Over the past few weeks and into the next few months, the APNA hive of activity continues. APNA held the first meeting of the Expert Advisory Group for the development of an education and career framework. We have representatives from several universities, senior nurse project officers from two Medicare Locals in the ACT and South Australia, the Australia College of Nurse Practitioners, the ACN, ANMF, RACGP, AMA, Department of Health Workforce Innovation Branch and myself, backed up by Kathy Bell, Lynne Walker and the team from APNA. From this meeting APNA has developed a discussion paper and once all feedback is received we will move on the development phase with working groups to look at the structure of our career pathway.

Our discussion board on APNAnurses Connect is well and truly up and running. It’s great to see such dynamic discussion and resources being posted by members, particularly on the career framework. Your input as members is essential and I encourage you to log in to the forum on APNAnurses Connect (using your member number and password) and have your say. You will be pleased to know that several of the authors mentioned in the resources in the discussion forum are on our expert advisory group.

So far members have raised very important points that will help us identify not only issues affecting the day to day practice of nurses, but your discussion adds weight to the cases we make to further our cause. As discussed there are many dimensions to a career structure in general practice nursing. These will range from placing students, new graduates and nurses transitioning from hospital, to identifying the skills and qualifications of the current EN, RN and NP workforce, and how you fit or scale this into a recognisable, workable and progressive career framework that will acknowledge skill level and guide nurses to advanced levels if they so wish. It will be no easy feat and your discussion will help us along our development path.

Also, Bronwyn Morris-Donovan and I were very privileged to be invited to the CATSINaM Summit in Canberra last week where we examined issues related to culturally safe teaching in nursing curricula and workplaces. APNA and CATSINaM memberships have many overlaps working in the primary health care arena. Congratulations to the CATSINaM Board, Janine Mohammed and the team for facilitating such an open and dynamic two days of discussions. The summit was attended by key stakeholders, including the Australian Chief Nursing Officer, Ms Rosemary Bryant OAM. An expert advisory group will be formed to begin work on a Leaders in Indigenous Nursing and Midwifery Education Network (LINMEN). It is intended that this important work and its effect will flow on to improving nursing workforce participation and retention of nurses from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage, and ultimately improve care for our Indigenous patients.

In other news, Kidney Check Australia Taskforce (KCAT) under Kidney Health Australia is looking for an APNA nurse to participate on the Nurse Education Sub-Committee. If you have an interest in kidney health, or are participating in nurse-led CKD clinical work and feel you may be able to contribute to nurse education, review modules and guides, please send your details and a brief bio to admin@apna.asn.au and I will be in contact with you.

APNA has also been busy reviewing key government documents and making submissions on behalf of nurses in primary health care. APNA has recently made submissions on the Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy for Australia, After Hours Care and the combined submission to the Senate Select Committee on Health with ACN, ACMHN and CATSINaM. The GP Roundtable has also been busy. Julianne Badenoch and I represent APNA on this high level committee. The last news regarding Ebola can be found here. It has not been widely publicised, however Australia has put in place high level border control practices for screening persons travelling from West Africa as well as exit testing on patients leaving affected areas. Whilst there have been a few sensationalised media items relating to suspected cases in one state, all states are monitoring returning travellers and there has not been a person tested positive in Australia.

As I sign off my thoughts drift back to my opening sentence and wonder how many of you post HSC are thinking of ‘après’ schoolies and thinking of a well-deserved holiday for parents. Take care…


13 October 2014

Dear Members,

There is a lot happening in the sphere of primary health care nursing and your professional association has been busily checking out the action and making representations on your behalf. Since my last entry in APNA’s eNews, Kathy Bell and I have had a very successful two days of meetings in Canberra. We met Senator Richard Di Natale, the Greens’ health spokesperson, and also the Hon Catherine King MP, the Shadow Minister for Health. We received warm welcomes from both politicians and both were well informed about primary health care and the important role that nurses in primary health care play in patient care, population health, and support for practices and services. We emphasised that nurses play a crucial role in improving access to care for the Australian population, and that to build and maintain a robust and well informed workforce there needs to be ongoing and adequate funding. We also met with Janine Mohamed and Colleen Gibbs from the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM). APNA has been invited to attend their Summit in early November and we look forward to strengthening our ties with CATSINaM.

Kathy Bell and I also met Australia’s Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Dr Rosemary Bryant, and key leaders from the health workforce branch within the Department of Health. We updated the Department on our activities, particularly the direction we are taking to commence work on our long awaited education and career framework. Don’t forget to visit our new APNA online forum, ‘APNAnurses CONNECT’ which was launched on Thursday last week and is already attracting much attention. To help kick off the action on our new forum, have your say on the career framework. Your views count!

In other news, APNA Vice President, Julianne Badenoch attended the RACGP conference ‘GP14’ this week. This was a valuable opportunity to keep abreast with changes in the general practice environment and to network and build stakeholder relationships. As an APNA representative I participated in the review of the Emergency Response Planning tool, which was showcased in a session entitled the Zombie Apocalypse. For a limited time the RACGP is offering to assist practices with online emergency response planning – contact the RACGP for more information. GP14 also saw the launch of the Abuse and violence: working with our patients in general practice, 4th edition, aka the ‘White Book’. APNA also hosts an online learning module on ‘Prevention and Management of Elder Abuse in Health Care Settings’.

Kind Regards,


An education and career framework: Be informed, be prepared and be proactive

For many years – certainly as long ago as 1998 when I entered general practice – nurses have been talking about a structured approach to employment into general practice, the education to provide relevant high quality nursing care and an appropriate structure of recognition to reflect these.

With constant input and persistent lobbying, APNA has secured funding to start this process – a very important milestone, and one to be celebrated. Even more important is to make sure we seize this opportunity and agree on a framework that suits the needs of nurses, employers, general practice teams and patients.

For this reason, the input of members is incredibly important to this process and we need to hear from all members on what you see our career framework to look like.

From novice to experienced and advanced level nurses, ultimately it is going to effect YOU!

A framework will improve recruitment, improve retention, increase recognition of skills and qualifications, and support nurse productivity by ensuring you are able to work to you full professional capability, support quality assurance by making sure the right nurse is performing the right care on the right patient at the right time.

It is hoped the career framework will encourage and recognise the important role nurses play not only as mentors of other nurses but in the development of primary health care capacity and service delivery. A well articulated career framework will facilitate a better understanding of the vital role of nurses in primary health care by employers and other health disciplines. Importantly it also supports primary health care reform, improving access by utilising nursing skills appropriately to expand access to care earlier where it can make a difference, and that means saving money for our health system.

Warm regards,


So, what do you have to say on all this? Do you think a framework will be of any use? Will it help you in any tangible way?

What does a framework look like to you? Where do you fit into the big picture?

Click here to join the discussion.

29 September

Dear members,

There is a lot happening as we move toward the next health reform challenge. As I have reported in past eNews editions, APNA has attended government consultation around what these new Primary Health Networks (PHNs) might look like and do. Those government consultations have finished but the conversation is not over.

In the past week the Public Health Association Australia has commenced a series of roadshows that will visit all capital cities. APNA has secured representation at each of these roadshow workshops and will participate as speakers and in panel sessions, not only to showcase the valuable role of primary health care nurses but to gauge the thoughts of other key players as to how services might be delivered. What we are all hoping for is PHNs find innovative ways to provide services and models of care to effectively provide primary health care to our communities. APNA will also be sure to state our concerns around the make-up of clinical councils and PHN boards to ensure that essential stakeholders such as primary care nurses are involved in all levels of governance and program development. We will be sure to provide you with feedback as these sessions roll out across Australia.

In other news, the National Immunisation Committee has commissioned consultants to review the guidelines for Immunisation Provider Competencies. This exciting piece of work is in the early stages and I am pleased to be involved as APNA’s representative on the working group. The call for tenders for the review of the Immunisation Handbook are also underway. You will see updates in the Therapeutic Goods Administration bulletin regarding MMRVwww.tga.gov.au/hp/msu-2014-08.htm#vaccine.

Whist we watch with great concern as the reported number of deaths from Ebola has moved past 2000 in the past few weeks, the Australian health authorities advise that the risk status has not changed for Australia which remains very low.

“The Australian Government has measures in place to assist with the identification of travellers who may be arriving into Australia from affected countries. The health of people who have originated their travel from affected parts of West Africa and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is being checked. In addition the Australian Government has put in place banners and messaging at our major international airports to raise awareness of the symptoms of Ebola. General practice clinicians are encouraged to become familiar with the Ebolavirus Disease Information for GPs sheet which provides valuable information on what to do if they have a suspected case of Ebola. More info can be found at www.health.gov.au/ebola.”

Regards to all,


18 August

Dear members,

It has been another busy two weeks at APNA. Thank you to all those members who provided feedback to APNA regarding the review of the General Practice Accreditation Standards. The APNA team, led by board member Mr Ian Watts, has developed a well-researched paper to present to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care for our response to that review.

The professional development team remains busy preparing for upcoming events and organising a great speaker line-up for the CDM and Continuing Education Workshops due in Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne over the next few months.

Most of our members have now received the latest Primary Times. This includes a Family Planning Decision Making Support Tool that nurses can use when discussing family planning and contraception with their patients. This resource complements APNA’s four hour online learning module Managing Fertility in General Practice.

There have been some changes to the terms of reference for APNA committees and advisory groups. In 2012 APNA commissioned NFP Analysts to provide us with a comprehensive internal and external review of the structure and functions of our organisation. To follow on from the recommendations made by these consultants, we have implemented recommendations in stages. One of those recommendations was to bring our committee structure in line with the rotation process of similar organisations with membership for APNA advisory groups aligned with the election cycle of the APNA Board. There will be positions open for nomination this month. APNA highly values the contribution of those dedicated advisory group members who are eligible to renominate. We look forward to another exciting few weeks for APNA.

Happy reading and kind regards,

Karen Booth
APNA President

23 June 2014

APNA continues to deliver important and valuable professional development education and networking opportunities nationally.

Last week in Adelaide, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating the 4th in a series of APNA Continuing Education Workshops for Nurses in General Practice. I am very proud as a South Aussie to have co facilitated this with the APNA team and with an amazing attendance of more than 70 nurses.  For further workshops nationally see APNA NiGP Workshops 2014.

One of the many highlights was a keynote presentation on Lifestyle and Weight Management from Dr Rick Kausman, author of If not dieting, then what? Dr Rick Kausman, a medical doctor based in Melbourne, is recognised as the Australian pioneer of the person-centred approach to wellbeing and healthy weight management. He has many years of experience in the field of weight management and offering training to health professionals throughout Australia and overseas.

Rick’s presentation for me, brought a breath of fresh insight into how we work with our communities around healthy eating. Rick’s presentation was at times confronting when we realise the damage we as health professionals can do to people who struggle with healthy weight management, when we have such opportunity to instead encourage our clients to be the healthiest they can be, and as a result of that, achieve and maintain a healthy, comfortable weight for them without being deprived of food or losing quality of life. To enjoy food without feeling guilty, see If not dieting.

Another highlight was keynote Dr Rob Grenfell, a GP and Public Health Physician and the National Director, Cardiovascular Health at the Heart Foundation. See Heart Foundation Professionals Information. Rob leads the Cardiovascular Health Team which includes the full spectrum of heart health activities from prevention to clinical care.

Rob entertained us with his many anecdotes, all of which demonstrated the importance of the team approach to heart health in general practice and the rising evidence of nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease management in primary care. Rob also spoke of the imperative and responsibility we have to adopt evidence based practice for prevention of cardiovascular disease.
By the end of both of these presentations many of us wanted to work with these very enlightened and entertaining doctors who truly understood the value of working collaboratively in teams, with nurses leading health improvement for their identified communities.

Networking was paramount and much conversation was had with the delightful Peter Larter refreshing us with innovative ways to support our work using MBS and the PNIP.  Peter is a Health Economist and a long term supporter of nurses working in General Practice and primary health care and shed new light on creative use of business cases to further enable nurse led delivery of care and coordination.

We also had many wonderful presentations from many local nurse leaders around CKD, compression therapy, diabetes, immunisation, travel health, COPD and Asthma.

The two days finished up with a wonderful Q&A session led by Samantha Moses “The progress of nursing in Australian general practice”. Sam is a Registered Nurse, Nurse Consultant for APNA and Primary Healthcare Consultant with over 20 years’ experience in primary health care.  Sam was the founder and inaugural president of the Australian Practice Nurses Association and remains committed to advancing the role of the primary care nurse in Australia.  APNA is thrilled and delighted to be able to share Sam’s passion, skill, knowledge and experience with its members and thanks Sam for her ongoing commitment to APNA and PHC nurses.

I recommend if you haven’t attended one of the APNA Continuing Education Workshops please consider registering, and please watch APNA’s enews and website for more exciting face to face and online opportunities throughout 2014-15. www.apna.asn.au 

Your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.

12 May 2014

Today is International Nurses Day – Celebrate, with pride, our wonderful profession

International Nurses Day is celebrated around the world on the anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth on 12 May 1820.

Florence has been immortalised in many publications, including over 200 of her own works. One Florence Nightingale quote which rings bells for me is, ‘Unless we are making progress in our nursing every year, every month, every week, take my word for it, we are going back’.

The International Council of Nurses (ICN) commemorates this important day each year with the International Nurses Day (IND) Kit – Nurses: A Force for Change – A vital resource for health

This significant international resource gives us impetus to make certain we strive to continue Florence’s work of ensuring we are not going back, and nursing continues to progress for the betterment of world health.

Of interest within this vital resource are two areas we see demonstrated:

  • An educated nurse workforce + a good work environment = high quality care
    This simple, evidence-based equation, whether applied at a global or a local level in the health system, is fundamental to understanding how to make the best of the vital resource which is nursing.
  • It is essential that nurses and world leaders focus on the global nursing workforce as a key priority for achieving better health for all

Along with many other explorations within this resource, these two areas have synergy with APNA’s strategic plan, and in particular our vision of a healthy Australia through best practice primary health care nursing.

APNA continues to work collaboratively with its partners, other nursing specialties and government, to ensure a sustainable and strong nursing workforce.

My message today on Florence Nightingale’s birthday is to remember: one of the best assets for your community’s health is its primary health care nursing workforce, with its varied and extensive skills, knowledge, expertise and experience. In these times of workforce shortages and fiscal challenges, remember to care for yourself and care for your colleagues, and you will ensure your community’s health remains in safe hands.

On behalf of APNA, I acknowledge Florence Nightingale on her birthday and give thanks for her strength, foresight and leadership upon which our wonderful profession is founded.

Your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.

28 April 2014

A bit of sunshine on the horizon for primary health care nurses

Whilst the rumour mill continues to churn out bleak and often daunting messages about the forthcoming Federal Budget, much of the talk is about the implications for health.

What we do know is we are struggling to sustain a system that is overwhelmed by the burden of chronic disease. The future, with our ageing population and predicted workforce shortages, must be considered seriously and action taken to ensure our nation’s health is not compromised.

We also know that best utilisation of an army of nurses ready, willing and able to help improve the nation’s health makes very good sense. Primary health care nurses are positioned in or close to every community across Australia, working in various settings and specialties delivering frontline primary health care to their communities. APNA continues to work very hard to ensure this message is front and centre to policy and decision-makers federally.

Amongst all of this fiscal debate and prophecy, a bit of sunshine is on the horizon for primary health care nurses.

The APNA 2014 national conference Thriving Through Change is not far away: Thursday 29 to Saturday 31 May, held at the Hilton in beautiful Sydney. This is the perfect opportunity for all nurses working in primary health care to gather and share knowledge and learn from others how we can and will deliver care to our Australian communities into the future. 

Thriving Through Change has something for everyone. Pre-conference workshops will be held on Thursday 29 May. Full day workshops include Leadership and Professional Practice Standards – What’s the connection?, Diabetes Assessment Skills and Wound Care. Two hour workshops include Asthma and COPD, Chronic Disease Management, Implanon Insertion, Immunisation, Sterilisation, and Travel Health.

National speakers are led by our own Commonwealth Chief Nurse and Midwifery Officer Dr Rosemary Bryant and we also have outstanding APNA international guests Dr Madrean Schober from the United States and Barbara Docherty from New Zealand. The program is exciting and extensive with something new and informative for all. Of great interest to APNA members will be our new policy workshops; please come with your story to help shape APNA policy in these vital areas.

Thrive or survive?
An interactive discussion on transitioning to general practice nursing. What’s been tried in Australia and overseas? What works and what doesn’t? Where should we be heading?

Money, money, money… it’s a minefield!
Discussing payment mechanisms such as the Practice Nurse Incentive Program, block payments, item numbers, blended payments… what might work best to support the role of the primary health care nurse in delivering care and promote the best interdisciplinary team care? 

APNA conferences would never be the same without opportunities in abundance for us all to network. Now in its sixth year, the conference is truly a much anticipated opportunity for the APNA family to catch up with old friends and welcome new ones. And indeed the APNA family has grown with nearly 4000 members and numerous supporters including many international nurses now identifying as APNA family.

On Thursday evening APNA will hold its AGM followed by a Meet & Greet function – a perfect opportunities to meet the Board, staff and sponsors. On Friday evening APNA will host a Roaring Twenties themed Gala Dinner held on the Sydney Showboat! Get your flapper dresses and zoot suits out of the closet and join your peers over a delicious dinner, beverages, dancing and an abundance of entertainment on a cruise of Sydney Harbour. During the evening we will celebrate the achievements of primary health care nursing in Australia and present nine outstanding nurses with Best Practice Awards.

Please take the opportunity to attend this wonderful conference. I promise you will not regret it. Not only will you gather information and new approaches to your work but you will have loads of fun learning (and laughing) with your primary health care nursing colleagues. See you there!

Your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.

14 April 2014

APNA – Supporting Australia’s student and graduate nursing workforce

Many of you will know APNA was established in 2001 by nurses, for nurses. However, our vision is broader than the interests of the profession. Our vision is a healthy Australia through best practice primary health care nursing.

APNA is the voice for nurses in primary health care, representing and advocating for the profession, and supporting the profession to deliver better primary health care to the community. However APNA continues to be concerned about the ongoing predictions of a looming workforce crisis in nursing and yet there still remains the contradiction of graduating nurses each year being unable to obtain a placement, with many leaving the health workforce having never truly developed their career in nursing.

APNA is committed to lead national policy development towards an education and career framework for primary health care nurses, particularly in relation to undergraduate clinical placements and transition to practice. Plans are underway to drive this policy development collaboratively at a national level. An important initiative with the vision of supporting Australia’s future workforce has been to encourage student and graduate nurses to experience and seriously contemplate primary health care nursing as a viable and rewarding career option. Thus, in July 2013 APNA offered free membership to nursing students in Australia.

This offer has been taken up by over 600 student nurses across Australia, all of whom receive regular updates, offers and access to APNA resources such as eNews to allow them to see and taste primary health care nursing from the peak professional organisation directed by and for primary health care nurses.

It was with great delight at the recent CoNNO (Coalition of National Nursing Organisations) member meeting on 4 April, as Chair I was able to welcome guests ASANNA (Australian Student and Novice Nurse Association).

APNA first met with ASANNA late in 2013 and offered encouragement and support for this brand new organisation which is inclusive of students enrolled in an approved nursing degree, and novice nurses up to five years after graduation.

ASANNA is proud to be an independent organisation offering free membership, with vision and commitment to development of the future nursing workforce by facilitating growth through support, community engagement and advocacy; values that APNA celebrates and embraces.

APNA wish ASANNA executives Stephanie Jeremy and Carol Mudford and their passionate team all the very best for the future and their good work supporting student and novice nurses and Australia’s future nursing workforce. We anticipate working with ASANNA into the future.

As always your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.

17 February 2014

As primary health care nurses we work daily with clients who are struggling with chronic disease and the impact it has on their health, their life and family. How often do we find many are also struggling with comorbidity of mental illness? APNA has been a member of the expert advisory group brought together by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) to develop learning resources to maximise health outcomes and improve the patient journey for people with chronic disease by improving the knowledge and skills of nurses to identify and manage mental health conditions associated with chronic disease.

Many physical health conditions increase the risk of mental illness, while poor mental health is known to increase the risk of diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer. Comorbidity of physical illness and mental health issues impacts on whether people seek help, diagnosis and treatment, and impacts on their physical and mental recovery. Good mental health is a protective factor in prevention and self-management of chronic disease.

To address the issue of unacceptably poorer health outcomes of people with chronic disease and the associated mental illnesses, nurses and midwives need to have the knowledge and skills to identify manage and refer their patients.

The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses has released a series of online resources aimed at improving the knowledge and skills of nurses to identify and manage mental health conditions associated with chronic disease.

No Health without Mental Health: the link between chronic disease and mental illness
A series of webinars on chronic disease and mental health will complement these learning resources. The first webinar features APNA Vice President Karen Booth.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Mental Health Webinar
Monday 3 March 7:15-8:30pm AEDT

Improve how you identify and manage mental health conditions associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease by joining nursing professionals from across the country to participate in a free live webinar broadcast. The webinar is exclusively for nurses and will feature a facilitated panel discussion of a case study. Find out more here.

As always your thoughts are very welcome at president@apna.asn.au.