The introduction of nurse operated walk-in clinics for public hospitals will help formalise the new role of nurses according to Head of Nursing at Melbourne University, Professor Sanchia Aranda.
“There is this classic perception that nurses are educated to know just enough to help doctors do their job. Yet these days the role of a nurse is blurred,” she says.
“These days there are nurses who have Masters and PhD degrees, these people have sophisticated skills and the ability to support the management of patients.”
Professor Aranda says the federally funded walk-in clinics – for patients seeking fast treatment of minor injuries and ailments - will not only free doctors up to focus on more complex cases, but also help formalise tasks that nurses are already doing within the health system.
“Take something like a broken arm, there are already triage nurses who can read x-rays, put on casts and monitor patients as they deal with the injury without the patient needing to see a doctor,” she says.
Professor Aranda says despite the increased number of skills needed by nurses, society’s perception of the profession is not changing very rapidly. Yet she says there are pockets of hope that this perception will change, like the Masters course of Nursing that the University introduced last year. Professor Aranda says that if we can bring brighter people into the profession then perceptions will begin to change, and then nurses will be seen as performing roles that are able to really help people manage their illnesses.