25 November 2013

It has been another very exciting and busy fortnight for APNA with submissions to the review of the national ehealth record (PCEHR) and draft standard for medical refrigeration equipment for the storage of vaccines, both of which will be available on the APNA website very soon. APNA was also represented at the AML Alliance National Primary Health Care Conference 2013 and the Health Workforce Australia conference Skilled and Flexible – The health workforce for Australia’s future. Two recurring themes at both of these conferences were around the international growing burden of chronic disease and the urgent need for smarter workforce solutions to ensure we can adequately manage this growing health burden.

APNA is advocating strongly that primary health care nurses are an integral part of the workforce solution, able and committed to fighting the the tsunami of chronic disease confronting us.

As the peak national body supporting and representing nurses in primary health care, APNA’s top advocacy priority is the development of an education and career framework for nurses in general practice and other primary health care settings. Part of this framework needs to be around preparation and entry to practice.

APNA is concerned that there is no formal education and training pathway into general practice and primary health care nursing and no framework for skills development and career progression. Access to education and training specific to nursing in general practice and primary health care is patchy, variable and inconsistent. There is no supported program for undergraduate nurse clinical placements in general practice and primary health care, or for induction and support for graduate nurses and others new to the setting. In the absence of appropriate education, training, and induction programs, there are significant risks that the number of nurses needed with the appropriate skill sets will not be available to meet the needs of general practice and primary health care in the near future.

To begin addressing these issues, through its partnership with the AML Alliance on the Nursing in General Practice Program, APNA will shortly be commencing work to develop improved options for the future for undergraduate clinical nursing placements in general practice and primary health care settings, and for transition to practice programs for nurses entering general practice and primary health care. APNA will be consulting widely with its members and stakeholders in undertaking this work, and it is hoped the outcomes will provide a blueprint for government action.

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