Broader role for nurses
GEVEVIEVE Beggs is proud to be a nurse and says new arrangements which allow nurse practitioners to prescribe certain medications are a win for nurses, a win for patients, and a win for the health system.
Nurse practitioners are senior nurses who combine experience with expert clinical knowledge and higher qualifications to be specially authorised by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.
Mrs Beggs works as a nurse practitioner in mental health, and describes herself as the “hub of a wheel” of mental health services for her clients in the Nimbin area.
Thanks to the changes she can now prescribe medications according to a “formulary” developed specific to her role.
“My formulary includes anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, anti-anxiety and mood-stabilising medications, but I can't write a prescription for antibiotics, for example, because it is not my specialty,” Mrs Beggs explained.
Mrs Beggs said the advantages of the new arrangements for patients include that pharmaceutical treatments can be initiated earlier, if they are required, and that she can spend time educating her client if a medication is prescribed.
“I believe in patient education, it is very important, and I have more flexibility in the time I can spend with clients,” Mrs Beggs said.
Mrs Beggs said the new rules acknowledge the dedication and expertise of nurses, and that the changes have to be good for the health system.
“If you can prevent somebody from involuntary hospitalisation (for example), by managing them in an integrated team in the community, that is beneficial for the client and it has to be more cost-effective for the health system,” Mrs Beggs said.