So what’s a nurse practitioner?
The first two NPs were authorised in New South Wales in 2000 and numbers have grown steadily. The latest figures from July 2014 registration data collected by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) reveal that there are 1084 NPs endorsed throughout Australia. The 2012 Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) national member survey showed that NPs working in Australia are practicing in diverse settings and speciality areas, ranging from emergency departments (30%) to general practice environments (8%), with the majority (71%) working solely for the public sector.
There are four key elements which define the advanced, extended and collaborative role of NPs in Australia:
- Advanced knowledge, skills and expertise in diagnostic assessment and reasoning
- The ability to independently prescribe medicines
- The ability to independently order and interpret diagnostic tests (pathology, imaging studies, etc)
- The ability to independently refer to medical specialists
The type of care I provide as an NP focuses on person-centred, holisitic health and wellbeing approaches. Although I can treat your illness, I’d rather prevent it in the first instance.
Chris Helms, Primary Healthcare Nurse Practitioner
What kind of NP are you?
I provide healthcare for the episodic minor complaint, as well as ongoing care for complex healthcare needs which require time, individualised care and expert attention.
I am authorised to provide care for clients of all ages, including:
Preventative healthcare, such as:
- Action plans for chronic conditions
- General wellness checks
- Skin checks
- Sexual health
- Pre-employment physical assessments
- Smoking cessation counselling and treatment
- Assistance with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Nutrition and exercise support
Minor illnesses and injuries, such as:
- Coughs, colds and infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract
- Sprains, strains and minor breaks
- Rashes, abrasions, and minor lacerations
Chronic disease and case management for conditions, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease (blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol, etc)
- Lung disease (asthma, emphysema, etc)
- Joint and muscle conditions (arthritis, osteoporosis, etc)
- Mental health issues (depression, anxiety, etc.)
Minor procedures, such as:
- Spirometry, ECGs and 24 Hour Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
- Skin lesion biopsy and excision
- Laceration repairs
- Implanon insertion and removal
- Miscellaneous procedures (toenail removal, abscess drainage, cryotherapy for warts, etc)
What can’t you do?
- Providing referrals to allied health professionals (dietitians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, etc)
- Workers compensation claims
- Driver’s license medicals
- Approval of “GP Chronic Disease” or “Mental Health Management Plans”
- Ordering certain diagnostic imaging (for example, CT, MRI and certain ultrasound examinations)
In the event a client presents with the above needs, I am able to expedite a referral to a general practitioner to obtain the necessary care.
Do the above restrictions sound ridiculous? I think so too! The most common referral I would make for a client is to an allied health professional for holistic care!
These restrictions result in duplication of care and increasing healthcare expenditures. If you’d like to find out how to lobby your local member in order to advocate for NPs so we can provide these services, please contact me!