“General practice nurses (GPNs) have in-depth knowledge and specialised skills to assist people and empower them on their health care journeys,” says Robyn Vance MACN, a registered nurse who currently works at Flinders Peak Medical Centre in Ipswich, Queensland.
All across Australia, nurses like Robyn working in general practice settings are pivotal to reducing the load on the hospital system and ensuring people receive expert care in the comfort of their local communities. We caught up with Robyn as part of our Nurses Where You Need Them NurseClick Series to gain an insight into the skills required to be a general practice nurse, how their services can be accessed and the vital contribution they make to improving the lives of our country’s most vulnerable.
“General practice nurses are the beginning of where patients enter the health care system and where their problems are often first identified. We provide numerous services for people from all walks of life including wound care, infusions, chronic disease management, immunisation to name just a few,” Robyn says.
“These services can be accessed through direct referral, people ringing-up to make appointments directly with a nurse or by being tied in with our General Practitioners (GPs). It is a definite advantage for the community to have direct access to nurses in our practice, which allows us to work in concert with GPs to provide holistic care and to identify and address problems as they arise. Our GPs rely on and respect our skills and knowledge to provide that care and bring to light any issues. It is very much a team effort.”
Working in this nursing speciality requires a mixture of excellent clinical and communication psychosocial and communication skills to ensure that the physical and emotional needs of patients are met.
“General practice nurses are often viewed as having a low skill set for what we provide, however, I want to make it clear that it is a very diverse and challenging area to work in which requires a broad skill set,” Robyn says.
“We require skills in areas such as triage, mental health, neonatal care, paediatrics, medicine and surgery, to name just a few. Underpinning all this is the ability to communicate with people from all walks of life, in particular our vulnerable populations who often have trouble accessing and understanding the health care system.”
As well as providing clinical care, Robyn also stressed the key role GPNs play in providing trusted health advice to patients and ensuring their concerns are heard.
“We have developed long-lasting relationships with our patients who have comorbidities and require lots of support and education,” she says.
“Advocacy is one of the most important things we can do for our patients, in any setting, but particularly in the community. We are the voices of patients when they cannot speak for themselves or they do not know what to ask or cannot communicate from a cultural or health perspective. We can’t advocate if we can’t communicate, which is paramount to what we do as nurses.”
However, the benefits of GPNs is not just limited to individual patients, they also ensure that patients receive safe care in the comfort of their own community without having to spend time in hospital.
“The more nurses can get into the general practice space the better it is for the health care system and the community,” Robyn says.
“In as many cases as possible, we want to keep patients, particularly our elderly and vulnerable, away from the risks that come with hospital admissions. We have a great deal of knowledge and skills to assist people and empower them on their journey and help keep them out of hospital.”
Robyn and the general practice nurses across Australia are a great example of the benefits that care in the community has to the lives of Australia’s most vulnerable. Remember, nurses are always #WhereYouNeedThem.
Nursing in the Community Week which runs from 14 – 20 September – raises awareness on how nurses can support you to stay safe at home, and their impact on the well-being of individuals and those in local communities.
Head to our website to register for a Nursing in the Community Week awareness pack and go in the draw to win a $500 Woolworths Gift Card.
We thank our official sponsor Regal Home Health for their support of Nursing in the Community Week.