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Nurse clinics – A welcome change
With an ageing population, the burden of chronic illness and increasing complexities of care, the health care needs of Australians have changed.
Current care delivery models – from acute to primary health care – are struggling to meet the increasing demands, and health care providers are looking for new and innovative ways to deliver health care.
Nurse clinics are well placed to meet these demands, and are already in operation in many settings, from acute care to primary health care, both nationally and internationally. And while the format of these clinic models may vary, their positive benefits include improved patient health outcomes, better access to care, and decreased rates of hospital admission.
What are nurse clinics?
Nurse clinics offer an alternative model of care delivery where the nurse is the primary provider of care for the patient. The nursing services provided are holistic and patient-centred, with accountability and responsibility for patient care and professional practice remaining with the nurse. In the general practice setting, nurse clinic models support a team based approach to care delivery, and involve the general practitioner and other members of the practice team.
When do they work best?
Nurse clinics are an effective way to involve patients in their own health care by providing a more integrated and patient-centred approach to care. By spending more time with individual patients, nurses can:
develop valuable insights into patients’ lives and lifestyles, leading to better health care solutions
give patients the information and understanding they need to play an active role in their own health care and treatment
develop longer-term relationships with patients and build deeper trust and rapport
Nurse clinics are especially effective when:
patients need to play an active, ongoing role in their health care and treatment (e.g. diabetes)
greater patient education and understanding is needed (e.g. sexual health)
a closer, longer-term relationship between patients and caregivers is needed (e.g. diabetes, older patients)
establishing trust is important (e.g. teen sexual health, mental health).
What do nurse clinics look like?
There is no one “right” model for a nurse clinic. In Australia and overseas, clinics develop according to factors such as the interests and specialities of the nursing team, the health care needs of the communities they operate in, budgetary constraints, existing health care delivery models and more. For example, a nurse clinic in a community health centre may operate quite differently to a nurse clinic in general practice or in a correctional environment.
To make the process of establishing a nurse clinic clearer, APNA has identified a set of ‘building blocks’ – the most important and essential elements of any nurse clinic. These building blocks can be arranged in any order because there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for clinics, nor is there one single way of setting clinics up.
These building blocks provide information and practical advice about establishing a nurse clinic, empowering nurses to take action with confidence.