Tuesday 11 December 2018

Each year the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners (ACNP) holds National Nurse Practitioner Day on the 12th December to celebrate an important milestone for the nursing profession.  This date was identified as a date of national significance, as the first Australian Nurse Practitioners, Sue Denison and Jane O’Connell, were endorsed on this day in 2000.


This year, the ACNP has extended this to a full week, using a theme of ‘Share Your Story’ to encourage the 1,790 Nurse Practitioners (or ‘NP’s’) around the country to share their journey and promote this important career pathway for a new generation of NP’s in Australia.


Bass Coast Health (BCH) is celebrating National Nurse Practitioner Week by sharing the stories of their two valued Nurse Practitioners.


While GP’s come from a medical background, NP’s have trained in a holistic nursing environment and usually specialise in one particular field of health. They are the most senior clinical nurses in our health care system, working either by themselves or collaboratively with a doctor. NP’s have the experience and expertise to examine, diagnose, order investigations and prescribe medications.


Robert Gresham has been nursing for over 30 years, and was among the first wave of university-trained nursing students in Victoria.  He worked in various Melbourne Hospitals before obtaining post-graduate qualifications in Intensive Care and Emergency Nursing. He worked in this field for 12 years, including a three year stint at a specialist trauma and neuroscience Intensive Care Unit in London before returning to Bass Coast as Deputy Director of Nursing at Wonthaggi Hospital. Following 3 years of additional study, Robert was endorsed as a NP, specialising in the syndromes of ageing.


“I remember sweating the first time I wrote a prescription, with the realisation of the implications and responsibilities.  Since then I have written many thousands of prescriptions and diagnostic tests and seen our Sub-Acute service grow from 8 to 20 inpatient beds”, Robert says.


This year, he moved to a role in the community setting where his work centres around assisting older people with issues related to medication, falls, mobility, frailty and cognition.


“I’m involved in a number of team and individual clinical activities, from Falls and Balance Clinics with our Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy teams, to tele-health clinics in collaboration with a Melbourne-based Geriatrician and individual client reviews. I also perform individual client reviews from our sites at Wonthaggi and Phillip Island, and in clients’ homes”.



For BCH Nurse Practitioner Di Jones, the journey to become a NP was a natural progression after completing post graduate studies in the areas of urology and continence.


“I saw it as a way to provide my clients with a higher calibre of care to assist them with their urinary conditions. It’s been both challenging and rewarding”, she says.


Up until recently, Di has worked as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in the Continence team at BCH and has continued with the team since being credentialed as a NP.


Di says, “My role is an exciting addition to the continence service, as many clients who see our team for an assessment are found to need simple investigations such as urine pathology or an ultrasound. I can order these tests to save them going back to a GP. I’m also authorised to order diagnostic tests, make referrals and write prescriptions for medications for urinary issues. This has the dual benefit of saving the client going back and forth to their GP and easing the burden on our overloaded GP systems”.


In this way, Di works in a collaborative arrangement with medical staff, communicating frequently with GP’s to keep them informed of their patients’ status.


Di will soon be seeing even more clients, with BCH planning to open a Urology Outpatient Clinic, which will include urodynamics, or investigations into pressure on the bladder to treat incontinence. The Clinic will be led by Di in collaboration with a visiting specialist Urologist.


For more information about Nurse Practitioner services at Bass Coast Health call 5671 3333.

Pictured above: Bass Coast Health Nurse Practitioners Robert Gresham and Di Jones find their work challenging and rewarding.