26 October 2020

Are you new to primary care nursing and feeling a little bit lost?

SWSPHN’s New to General Practice Nursing Program aims to upskill the practice nurse workforce by providing continuing professional development events, mentoring and practical online education and resources to new nursing graduates and those transitioning from acute care settings.

The free, 12-month program rolled out across our region this year and practice nurses like Macquarie Fields Medical Practice’s Danii Cook (pictured) – and her patients – are already benefiting from the confidence and knowledge she’s gained from the program.


Where did you go to university and when did you graduate?

I graduated from the University of Western Sydney with a Bachelor of Nursing at the end of last year. I spent just over a year in the hospital setting as an undergraduate as an Assistant in Nursing (AIN) at Liverpool Hospital.


When/why did you decide to pursue a career in primary care?

I decided to pursue a career in nursing after my son was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2013. We went through all the treatment and had an amazing team including fantastic nursing staff who inspired me to go into nursing. My son is now doing really well and just celebrated six years post chemotherapy.


How did you learn about the New to General Nursing Program?

I was on the SWSPHN website looking up something else and came across it. Universities prepare you more for hospital-based nursing, so as a new graduate, new to general practice and because I work autonomously, I felt there was a lot I was missing out on, gaps in my knowledge of general practice which I needed to fill. The program has helped fill those gaps.


What training/support did you receive through the New Gen Program?

I started the program in mid-2020 and have completed six of the seven online modules. The modules have been great for filling in my gaps in knowledge about developing care plans, general practice accreditation and speaking to patients about preventative healthcare measures.

When I first started speaking to patients about preventative healthcare it seemed forced and unnatural. You’ve got to find your own way and the modules have helped with that. Now I’m talking to patients in a way that feels more natural and they feel more comfortable as well.

My PHN support officer has also been fantastic providing support and mentoring over the phone. We’ve had lots of calls!


What was the most important thing you have learnt through the program so far?

I’ve gotten a lot of evidence through the modules to explain why we do things the way we do. I can now rely on more evidence-based practice. Learning how to develop care plans has also been very important.


Why is a program like New Gen valuable for training practice nurses?

University helps prepare you for hospital-based nursing and my placement as an AIN in a hospital was the only nursing experience I had had. There’s a big gap when you go into practice nursing, it’s a completely different form of nursing.

If you are coming straight from university you have the skills but there’s certain gaps in knowledge you are missing, especially working autonomously. I needed that extra support to tie that all together.

It’s all about providing the best care for your patient. If you keep persisting along with the gaps you are not going to provide the best evidence-based care for your patients.


Are you a better nurse because of your New Gen training/ are patients benefiting from the skills you learnt through the program? In what ways?

I’m definitely a better nurse – and more confident in my skills as a practice nurse – because I’m doing the program. My patients are also benefiting. I feel comfortable enough now that I can have a discussion with my patients about ways to prevent chronic disease and what lifestyle habits they can change rather than just focusing on treating chronic disease.


Would you recommend the program to other graduates and nurses transitioning to primary care?

I would recommend it to any new nursing graduate or nurse transitioning from a hospital setting into a practice setting. It would be great for the program to be more widely rolled out and known about in general practice so nurses know that there’s courses out there and there is more support available if you need it.


What do you love about nursing?

I love having that patient interaction, building a rapport, especially in practice nursing because you do get to know your patients who are regularly coming back. I also enjoy seeing the change and that you’re making a difference to the patient after you’ve had a good discussion with them about something they’re concerned about.


To find out more about the New to General Practice Nursing Program, read this factsheet or email clinicalsupport@swsphn.com.au.