Member stories

Carolyn’s story

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Carolyn Lally – General Practice Nurse, Virginia Medical Centre, Virginia, South Australia

I have enjoyed working as a primary health care nurse for around seven years, most of it at Virginia Medical Centre in semi-rural location north of Adelaide. I chose to move to general practice as a lifestyle change after many years in a variety of clinical and research positions around Australia – I just wish I had made the change sooner!

Catching up with fellow general practice nurses at education events had highlighted the need for more support for nurses who often feel isolated within their own practice and unsure of where to go for guidance. In early 2014 I started collecting email addresses with the plan to initiate a Nurse Network. A group of four nurses then met over dinner and planned our initial meeting, which was held in August 2014. Early on we approached APNA and came to be part of the Nurse Connect initiative, along with other groups Australia-wide. APNA has been very supportive of the coordinators, who were able to travel to Melbourne in February 2015 to share our ideas and learn some new skills to assist with setting up our networks.

Our group has been highly successful, with 16-30 nurses attending each meeting, and over 70 nurses having attended at least one meeting. We meet every six weeks, and enjoy roundtable discussions and guest speakers on topics that the group has chosen. Although we are well supported by APNA and the Northern Health Network (NHN) – who kindly provide us with a venue, catering and admin support, our group is independent and has evolved to meet its own demands. Our network is very dynamic and feedback so far has been very positive.

What’s your experience with nurse networks in your area? We would love to hear your story.

If you are interested in being involved in a nurse network see here.

AMA’s Position Statement on nurses in general practice

Earlier this week the Australian Medical Association (AMA) published a position statement on nurses in general practice – General Practice Nurse Position Statement 2005. Revised 2015 (see here). This document is a revision of the original statement which was published 10 years ago.

This position statement came as a surprise to APNA, and as the peak professional body representing nurses working in primary health care including general practice it is disappointing we were not consulted in this process. Karen Booth, our President, has now written to the AMA’s President to express our concern around this.

While there are some positive statements about nurses contained in the position statement, it also contains a number of inaccuracies, such as outdated nurse data and a misunderstanding around nurse scope of practice. We have provided this feedback to the AMA and we hope the position statement will be amended.

It is important the role of the primary health care nurse working in general practice is clearly understood by fellow health professionals. Your experience, unfortunately, tells us that this is not the case – in the last APNA salary and conditions survey you told us that only 23% of GPs had a full understanding of nurse scope of practice in general practice and, more worryingly, 4% of GPs had no understanding of scope whatsoever. This lack of understanding is one of the many barriers faced by nurses working in the general practice setting.

Does the AMA’s position statement just add to this lack of understanding? What does the profession need in order to change attitudes and perceptions? Let us know your thoughts.