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What is primary health care nursing?
Primary health care is any medical service that is provided outside the four walls of a hospital, including general practice, aged care, schools, community health and other primary health care settings.
Primary health care nurses play a critical role in keeping people healthy, providing proactive care and health promotion to keep Australians well.
With APNA membership, primary health care nurses thrive in their careers
Why is primary health care so important?
With Australia’s aging population and deteriorating health, a strong and accessible primary health care system is vital to keep people well and out of hospital.
Primary health care is the first level of contact that individuals, families and communities have with the healthcare system. In Australia, this:
- Incorporates personal care with health promotion, the prevention of illness and community development
- Includes the interconnecting principles of equity, access, empowerment, community self-determination and inter-sectoral collaboration
- Encompasses an understanding of the social, economic, cultural and political determinants of health
In what settings do primary health care nurses work?
Primary health care nurses work in a range of settings, each sharing the characteristic that they are a part of the first level of contact with the health system.
In Australia, those settings can include:
What is the role of a primary health care nurse?
Primary health care nurses play a vital role in keeping Australians healthy. Their work covers:
Scope of practice
Scope of practice for nurses is determined by professional registration (i.e. registered nurse or enrolled nurse), endorsement (i.e. prescribing scheduled medicines by nurse practitioners), educational background, nursing experience and clinical specialisation.
A nurse can build their clinical and professional capabilities to expand their scope of practice through education and training to develop a broader skill set that remains within the legislated professional practice standards and competencies.
An individual nurse’s scope of practice may vary considerably from that of another nurse.
Grounded in their scope of practice, nurses provide socially appropriate, universally accessible, scientifically sound, first level care. They work independently and interdependently in teams to:
- Give priority to those most in need and address health inequalities
- Maximise community and individual self-reliance, participation and control
- Ensure collaboration and partnership with other sectors to promote public health
Read Scope of practice | APNA Position Statement in Related Documents below.
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Is primary health care nursing right for you?
Is primary health care nursing right for you? Our 10 minute quiz will help you identify how your interests, strengths and goals might set you up for a great career in primary health care
APNA supports school nurses—advice, education, insurance and advocacy to name a few—so that you can enjoy a rewarding career.