Health Systems and Policy Research

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Nurse Practitioners: An Opportunity to Recreate the Art of Nursing

Anne Crawford

The Australian Public Healthcare system today is complex and fragmented. It is a three-tiered system comprising primary, secondary and tertiary care. The typical hospital structure is a complex web of clinical streams, supported by Allied Health and other administrative functions. The system has created clinical silos without considering how they work together to look after the patient holistically. There is a separation within the system of people with a disability, chronic or complex illness, aged care, mental and social welfare.

Healthcare nursing is both and art and a science. However, the time pressures on nurses have largely reduced their roles to being task driven. They may be mindful that health affects all members of families, that health and illness are family events and that the process and outcome of healthcare is influenced by family support but, they do not have the capacity within their roles to practice this art of nursing.

Experienced nurses are feeling disenchanted and are leaving the profession. One ideal solution is to have a healthcare coach (nurse practitioner) who is available to the patient, for the patient; assists the patient in interpreting the system; understands what the doctor/specialist is looking for; supports communication between providers and patients and has the ability to access a support network.

This role would provide a career pathway for more experienced nurses, retain them in the profession and address many of the communication issues that arise for patients trying to navigate the complexity of the Australian Public Healthcare System.