Currently working at a nurse-led clinic in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Wendy Kroon began her Nurse Practitioner (NP) journey through a Commonwealth and Territory funded trial which aimed to learn the effectiveness of the NP role in Aged Care in 2005. Wendy is committed to providing service to the community that has limitations in accessing health care and has expanded her Aged Care NP role to Primary Care NP to better equip herself as a well-rounded health care provider.
Tell us a little bit about your nursing journey.
My nursing career commenced at the Austin Hospital in Victoria. I worked there for 10 years before taking maternity leave. In 1997 I moved to ACT and began working in the Aged Care specialty in a variety of roles, both clinical and educational. I started working with ACT health in 2001 and worked in a Continence Clinic for 18 months. From here, I moved to The Canberra Hospital.
In 2005, ACT Health were successful in obtaining Commonwealth and Territory funding to evaluate the role of a NP in Aged Care. I was successful in obtaining a position in this trial, which led to completion of my Masters in Nursing, working in an emergency department, GP Practice and a Residential Aged Care Facility. Throughout this trial, data was collected, and a report was submitted.
Following the ACT NP trial in Aged Care, I was successful in obtaining a NP position in ACT Health. In the NP role, I helped establish a service called RADAR (Rapid Assessment of the Deteriorating Aged at Risk) in collaboration with Dr Mary Ann Ryall. The service included assessment and management of clients in their own home or in a residential aged care facility (RACF) if they were deteriorating and at risk of hospital admission. Patients were referred to the service by their usual General Practitioners (GP).
RADAR has continued to expand and now employs another NP, a social worker, an occupational therapist and a RN. The RADAR service won Quality Awards with in ACT Health, and won the poster presentation award at the Australian and New Zealand Geriatric Medicine conference. The most important outcome of this team and the service they provided was that it allowed elderly clients to stay in their homes or in the RACF. It provided clinical support but also played a role in the education of family and staff. It show cased how a collaborative working relationship between GPs, NPs and specialists could provide positive outcomes for patients, whilst reducing hospital admissions.
Additionally, in 2011 -2013 I was involved in a Commonwealth funded trial that examined the role of NP’s in different models of care both in the private sector and in the public sector. The trial was to evaluate what models could be financially viable using the MBS and PBS. This project was written up – Nurse Practitioner – Aged Care Model of Practice Initiative.
Tell us about your current role as a NP.
In 2014, I was successful in obtaining a NP position in the Walk in Centre, a nurse-led clinic in a community in Canberra. The Walk In clinic is targeted at those people presenting with minor injury and illness. Since its inception, the concept has grown to three clinics in the ACT, employing only Advanced Practice Nurses (APN) and NPs. Last year alone, the three clinics saw 49,000 people.
At the Walk In Clinic I have the privilege to work with highly skilled and dedicated nurses to deliver primary care to the residents of Canberra at no additional out of pocket expenses to them 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
What influenced your decision to become a NP? Why did you choose your scope of practice?
I have always said that my journey to becoming a NP was a privilege.
As previously mentioned, I was a part of a research which attempted to address a challenging existing gap for our frail and elderly members of the community in getting timely care. With reduced mobility, restricted transport options, difficult access to home and residential aged care visit, many of them will not be treated in a timely manner. This can result in hospital admissions which can be avoided. I believe that the role of the NP in this sector is vital. I am also passionate about improving palliative care to the elderly at home and in RACFs and supporting staff to do so and I am working towards further education in this.
In recent times, I have broadened my scope to work in primary care. This service provides care to people when at times there are limited options, this could be financial, timing, or simply unable to get a GP appointment.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP?
In my current role I hope to continue to provide a unique nurse-led service to the community. I am proud of the initiative that ACT Health has shown to provide this service to the community in Canberra.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?
Patience and passion. The journey towards becoming a NP always starts with a passion to change and improve care for our patients.
The patience is needed as evolving the systems around us to change takes time and when you are eager to get going, it could be frustrating. Embrace the small gains and strive for the bigger ones, and you will not be disappointed.