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New course helps build nurse practitioner workforce

By Leanne Coleman

CDU Professor of Health, Clinical Practice Sandra Dunn CDU Professor of Health, Clinical Practice Sandra Dunn

A Masters level Nurse Practitioner course offered by Charles Darwin University through the Centre for Remote Health will help to build the workforce to support the Strategic Plan for Nurse Practitioners announced by the Northern Territory Government.

The plan announced by Minister for Health Robyn Lambley aims to increase the number of nurse practitioners throughout the Territory Government’s clinics and health services.

Charles Darwin University Professor of Health, Clinical Practice Sandra Dunn said the new policy would increase opportunities to develop new models of service delivery, retain a high quality health workforce and provide improved access to healthcare for Territorians.

“We are excited about the announcement that will see an increase in nurse practitioner positions in the NT,” Professor Dunn said.

“We have been working in partnership with the Centre for Remote Health (a joint centre of Charles Darwin University and Flinders University), in Alice Springs to provide further opportunities for health practitioners to advance their skills in the NT. This year we are offering a revised Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) program.”

Professor Dunn said that CDU had offered a nurse practitioner program since 2008, but with the strong collaboration of the Centre for Remote Health the new re-accredited course would increase the emphasis on remote and Indigenous health, and would also have a stronger clinical focus.

“There will be increased scope for those completing the course to extended practice skills in specialisations such as aged care, paediatrics, child and family health, mental health, diabetes, women’s health and emergency,” Professor Dunn said.

“Nurse practitioners have the ability to work in an advanced and extended clinical role, enabling them to work with patients right through from diagnosis to treatment.

“They can directly refer patients to other healthcare professionals without the need to see a GP, and can also prescribe a range of medications and order diagnostic investigations. These added skills are particularly important in a regional and remote setting.”  

Professor Dunn said that applicants to the CDU Nurse Practitioner course needed a minimum of five years’ experience as a qualified nurse and a qualification in a specialised health field.

The Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) has been accredited by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

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