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This is where we tell your stories, cover topical issues and promote meaningful initiatives.
CRANAcast taster: Episode 15 with Di Thornton
In episode 15 of CRANAcast, CRANAplus Fellow, registered nurse, and endorsed nurse practitioner from the Murray-Mallee region in SA, Di Thornton, shares her views on taking an “outside the box” approach to filling gaps in our current healthcare system and provides insight into her world of owning and operating a nurse practitioner-led health clinic.
Di: Nurse practitioners are highly trained. We’ve got Masters degree; a minimum of three years of post-graduate experience, but I think you would find most nurse practitioners have way more than three years of post-graduate experience by the time they decide to take up the role.
You also have to have a minimum of 5,000 clinical hours at advanced practice before you can even be endorsed.
So, you go to Uni and you do your Masters and you pass but that doesn’t guarantee that you will become an endorsed nurse practitioner who can actually work and get a provider number. You have to provide evidence to AHPRA that you meet the clinical criteria.
We’re able to prescribe, and order blood tests, X‑rays and ultrasounds. We’re able to able to interpret the data that comes back from those tests, and we’re able to treat people accordingly.
Most of us in rural and remote areas are very good at managing chronic conditions because there are lots of chronic conditions in rural and remote areas – as well as your normal flus, cuts, and anything else that walks through the door.
Working together to fill the gaps
Di: I think it’s time the Australian health system really looked outside the box to how things can be done differently, while still meeting the needs of the communities in rural and remote areas.
We know what the statistics are like for our communities: the health outcomes are lower in rural and remote areas because of the lack of access and timely access to appointments and specialist care.
I’m so passionate that [nurse practitioners] are part of the solution. We’re not the answer to it − we need GPs.
I wouldn’t be where I am, and the streamlining of our practice wouldn’t have been as smooth, without having [a travelling GP] onboard to be able to handball things to and refer to when things are beyond my scope of practice.
We don’t want to be mavericks; we don’t want to be separate from the system as it currently stands. And we certainly don’t want to be at arm’s length to GPs, they’re our colleagues.
We need one another to make the system work, and for it to work for our clients.