The Hobart Women’s Health Centre has been at the forefront of health promotion and innovation in women’s health for more than 26 years.
When their long serving doctor resigned it became increasingly difficult to recruit a GP for the Well Women’s clinic which had operated for many years. A solution presented itself when Lyn Fish discussed the possibility of working at the Centre in a Nurse Practitioner role. This was an innovative development for Tasmania which has been in place for more than two years.
There are already a number of other Nurse Practitioners experienced and qualified to work within a variety of settings with a significant degree of autonomy. However, so far in Tasmania they work either in general practice in collaboration with a doctor or in a health service team undertaking advanced clinical practice. Nurse practitioners are more numerous in other states and in more remote parts of the country they meet many of the workforce challenges of rural and regional areas.
“At a time when health professionals and politicians are arguing for more cost effective, high quality, appropriate and creative solutions to the ever growing health budget, the deployment of Nurse Practitioners should certainly be considered as part of the mix,” said Glynis Flower, Executive Officer, Hobart Women’s Health Centre.
“Nurse practitioners offer a specialised service which has characteristics which takes the best from the medical, nursing and health promotion traditions.”
Only after extensive experience are nurses eligible to undertake a Masters qualification to become Nurse Practitioners. Many specialise in specific areas of health and at Hobart Women’s Health Centre Lyn Fish uses her general practice and women’s health specialism to the full.
Dr Elmer said “women felt the Clinic’s location within the Hobart Women’s Health Centre and the close match in values was important.”
The report found high levels of satisfaction from the women who attended the service at Hobart Women’s Health Centre and described positive impacts on their health and wellbeing.
“During the interviews, we heard many examples of how the Nurse Practitioner supported women to achieve their health goals through listening, providing information, goal setting and clinical care, as well as emphasising early intervention and promoting self-care,” said Dr Stirling.
However, significant impediments to effective functioning were identified such as Medicare funding arrangement and access to interpreter services.
The Women’s Health Centre hopes to use the report to promote diverse approaches to service delivery and workforce development as well as continue to offer high quality health and well-being service to women.
Image, from left to right: Dr Christine Stirling, Dr Shandell Elmer and Lyn Fish.
University of Tasmania,