Dr Michelle Woods NP completed her Doctorate and Master of Science Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) at the University of Colorado with an emphasis in adult primary health care. Her expertise as a NP started in the United States working in General Medicine and Endocrinology practices. She has been certified both in the USA and Australia as a Diabetes Educator and she is currently practicing at the Royal Hobart Hospital Diabetes Centre, with a focus on the clinical management of complex care issues.
Tell us a little bit about your nursing journey.
My clinical background is a NP is in Adult/Geriatric Health, and Nursing in Cardiac and Emergency. Currently I am working as a NP in secondary speciality care for patients living with diabetes.
Tell us about your current role as a NP.
In Tasmania, approximately 16% of people are living with diabetes (including pre diabetes and undiagnosed diabetes). The evidence suggests that the cornerstone of diabetes management is self-management – and most of diabetes is managed in primary care settings. However, the specialised secondary care centres provide consultation and management for patients who have “poorly controlled diabetes” or have incurred diabetes complications, are living with type 1 or have gestation diabetes. The clinical focus is the decrease in progression of vascular and organ diabetes complications.
My Diabetes NP role allows me to provide a clinical service to reduce the progression of diabetes related complications, address service gaps (such as poor access to speciality services) and aid patients in overcoming multiple barriers in living with a life altering diagnosis.
Could you please explain about the Diabetes NP role in Australia, specifically in Tasmania?
The Diabetes NP service models include the provision of rapid and improved access to speciality care, and a specific focus on complex care. Improved speciality access results in aversion of emergency department visits and hospital admissions. The service model focuses on complex care resulting in the coordination of care among a number of health care providers including multiple specialists and primary care providers.
The capacity of NPs to conduct advanced assessments and clinical interventions results in detection of underlying metabolic and physiological factors contributing to a patient’s state of “poorly controlled Diabetes” and the prescribing and medication adjustments help provide timely interventions. Diabetes NPs also demonstrate transformational leadership through improving service provision of patient pathways for vulnerable populations such as people living with severe mental illness or in need of speciality bariatric care.
What influenced your decision to become a NP? Why did you choose your scope of practice?
Back in the United States, I was amazed by how the NP role was able to provide a holistic nursing care within the medical domain, so I decided to become one myself. NPs scope of practice in the United States is broadly determined across a lifespan. My scope of practice in Tasmania in Endocrinology was based on the Department of Health Tasmanian health service need, namely diabetes management. Nevertheless, I have continued my Primary Care focus by also practicing in primary health.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP?
I hope that our innovative and disruptive NP role will be more recognised in Australia, thus improve the application of the role as an important team member in the care of patients, which will allow for a more consistent and comprehensive care.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?
Take the time and go for it. I believe that eventually NPs will be viewed as cost effective and part of the tapestry of the Australian health care landscape.