High-Vis nursing

Outreach project breaks down the barriers for quarry workers

Source: APNA Primary Times Spring 2020 (Volume 20, Issue 2)

Nurse Practitioner Kerrie Dugan meets on site with quarry managers.

Striding through the dust and tumult of a busy Tasmanian quarry is a woman on a mission.

Her name is Kerrie Duggan and she’s here to talk about something close to her heart – men’s health.

As the mother of four sons, this Nurse Practitioner is motivated to make sure the local guys in her Huon Valley community take better care of themselves.

Today she’ll be administering flu shots to the quarry workers and also having discussions with management about next steps in what’s turned out to be quite a healthy partnership.

Workers at the quarry are encouraged by management to attend Kerrie’s Cygnet Family Practice for an annual health check. In fact, each year they receive a birthday card with a health check reminder and are given a paid day off so they can attend Kerrie’s Cygnet Family Practice.

The pay-off for the company is a healthier workforce, reduced sick leave and a growing reputation as a good place to work. For the men, it can be a serious wake-up call about underlying conditions.


Kerrie has been running this federally funded men’s health outreach project through APNA’s Building Nurse Capacity program. The focus is to increase access to health care for men and identify risk factors for the development of chronic disease and cancer. 

“We wanted to remove some of the barriers for men seeking health care,” says Kerrie. “Having a paid day off to do so certainly makes a difference. It’s also about changing attitudes so that routine health checks are seen as normal by men.”

During the initial consultation, a health questionnaire is completed, and any risk factors or abnormal findings identified are managed at a follow-up appointment with an appropriate health practitioner.

As a Nurse Practitioner working within an increased scope of practice, Kerrie can order pathology tests, x-rays and ultrasounds. She can also prescribe medication and refer directly to medical specialists such as cardiologists and dermatologists.


The check-ups have uncovered some potentially serious issues. One of the quarry workers required coronary artery stents after his pathology results revealed severe cardiovascular disease while another man had a basal cell carcinoma removed. Of the others who attended:

  • 29% needed a referral to a GP for follow up 
  • 50% had pathology tests ordered to screen for risk factors for CVD
  • 41% had a change to their health care as a result of the pathology tests  
  • 20% were referred for a vision check 
  • 8% received immunisations against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough  

“A lot of the men were surprised by what we discovered,” says Kerrie. “It shows that we need to encourage more men to get regular health checks.”


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