Cherie Whitbread has lived and worked in Darwin in the Northern Territory (NT) for the past 25 years, and for the 20 years of those years she has worked with numerous people with diabetes. Cherie started her NP journey a decade ago because she was constantly inspired by the role, and while she admits that it hasn’t been easy, she loves being a Diabetes NP and believes that the challenges she has and will tackle are all worth it.
Please tell us a briefly about your role as a NP in your community.
I work in Darwin at Royal Darwin Hospital which is the largest hospital in the NT and provides services to people living in the Top End. In my role as the diabetes nurse practitioner, I work closely with the diabetes team of endocrinologists, diabetes educators and dietitian. My focus is to support families with complex diabetes needs in collaboration with other health professionals. Another important aspect of my role is with the NT & FNQ (Far North Queensland) Diabetes in Pregnancy Partnership which aims to improve models of care for women with diabetes before, during and after pregnancy.
The work that I do is extremely rewarding especially with regards to aligning management between clinician and the person with diabetes and their family, many of whom I have known over the past 20 or so years. My role is unique in that I was the first diabetes nurse practitioner to work in the NT Department of Health.
Why did you become a NP within your scope of practice?
Working in diabetes is my niche, although it’s a chronic condition, management is constantly changing and there is always something new to learn. Nursing has been my career choice since I turned 17 years of age and clinical work, research and translating knowledge into practice which encompasses my diabetes nurse practitioner role is never dull. I love the challenges and the rewarding feelings my role provides to me.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP?
I hope to establish a diabetes nurse practitioner service that can be expanded throughout the NT. The diabetes NP model of care based around case-management seeks to actively partner between people with diabetes and their family to be as healthy as possible. My vision for my fellow nurses is that the nurse practitioner role becomes a normal pathway for those who have a commitment to providing clinical management at an advanced level of nursing practice.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?
My advice to those who are considering NP as a career choice is that you need to be supported in your workplace by a team that understands the value that you will add to the organisation. Choose your chosen clinical field, acquire the expertise and experience and commit to a place that will support your training and role.