15 May 2024

The benefits of working as a practice nurse was put on display at the New Graduate Information Day to prompt nursing students to consider a career in primary care within South Western Sydney.

The SWSPHN Clinical and Quality Improvement team held a stall at the University of Wollongong event in Liverpool earlier this month to answer questions from students considering a career in primary care.

Kristina Allen, Clinical Coordinator at SWSPHN, said: “We helped students understand practice nursing can be a rewarding career because they get to look after all facets of a patient’s health and help to prevent hospitalisations through preventive strategies. SWSPHN supports nurses new to practice nursing through the NewGen Practice Nurse Training program, giving them and practices peace of mind through training and support offered at no cost to nurses working throughout South Western Sydney.”

Enrolment enquiries welcome.
Learn if NewGen Practice Nurse Training is right for you

19 October 2023

Our services, innovations, collaborations and commitment to improving the health of our community was on display today at SWSPHN’s first showcase since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Centring around the theme of ‘strengthening Medicare’, a room of about 50 people including PHN Board members, PHN member organisations, PHN staff, service providers, committee members and GPs, gathered in the Dharawal Room at Campbelltown Catholic Club. 

We heard first from keynote speaker, Dr Stephen Duckett, Chair of the Eastern Melbourne PHN Board and former member of the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, about the challenges facing general practice and primary care in the future. 

Dr Duckett told the gathering there had been a steady decline in the number of medical students choosing general practice. 

“What this means is that the world of primary medical care in 10 years’ time, 15 years’ time or 20 years’ time is going to be quite different from what it is today,” he said.  

“There’s going to be more patients, and either the same, or a smaller number of general practitioners, so we’re going to have to think about different ways of doing things.” 

SWSPHN staff then highlighted a small sample of some of the great work we do, including our innovative iRAD and New to General Practice Nursing projects, and an example of collaborative commissioning. 

Kristen Short, Director of Innovation and Partnerships, showcased our iRAD interoperability solution which connects health providers who are providing care for the same patient. 

“With iRAD, we just need to consent the patient and the information will flow, and be available once they return to their regular GP,” she said. 

Ms Short said South Western Sydney was the first location in Australia to have true interoperability working “which was super exciting”. 

So far, 85 practices are connected to iRAD, a psychiatrist and after hours clinics, and Ms Short said we were looking to expand locally to add another 35 practices in the next few months.  

“One of my favourite quotes from one of our providers is ‘I can’t do my job without iRAD’, they see so much value in it. 

“We’ve been working very hard for a few years on being able to view hospital information through iRAd. It will be a complete game changer for GPs to be able to quickly see any information if a patient is admitted to the emergency department or hospital.” 

SWSPHN’s Kristina Allen, Clinical Support Team Lead, and Lisa Cerruto, Clinical and Quality Improvement Officer, gave an overview of the New to General Practice Nursing program which provides support for nurses who are new, returning or transitioning to general practice within South Western Sydney. 

Val Burge, SWSPHN Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drugs Program Coordinator, followed with a presentation about working with service providers to have a greater impact on client outcomes, giving our work with the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Rendu House clients as an example. 

Stephen Suttie, Senior Operations Manager at Neami National, gave a presentation on the new, SWSPHN-commissioned Liverpool Head to Health Centre, a free, walk-in, mental health and wellbeing support service which opened in August.  

He discussed the benefits of working in partnership with SWSPHN to engage the community through the codesign process to deliver the best service they could. “What we deliver is a service that is there for people when they need it … which is really closely integrated with the community.” 

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, closed the showcase with an exploration of SWSPHN’s new Employee Value Proposition – A Healthy Community. A Healthy Career. Right here, where you’re really needed – which not only tells, but shows why SWSPHN is a great place to work. 

Watch the staff EVP video 

Following the showcase, Board members met for SWSPHN’s AGM where our 2022-2023 Annual Report, which highlights even more of the significant body of work undertaken by our dedicated and passionate staff during the last financial year. 

Read our Annual Report 


14 August 2023

SWSPHN’s New to General Practice Nursing Program has featured in this month’s The Health Advocate, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association’s publication.

The program provides support for nurses who are new, returning or transitioning to general practice within South Western Sydney.

The 12-month program aims to upskill the practice nurse workforce by providing access to continuing professional development events, and practical, self-directed online education modules and resources.

Read the article

Find out more about the program

10 May 2023

The strong focus on primary care, with the tripling of the bulk billing incentive and investment in the health workforce to better meet the health needs of the Australians in the 21st century, were among the welcome features of Tuesday’s Federal Budget.

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) Acting Chief Executive Officer, Kristen Short, said there was little doubt primary care had been struggling in recent years, with fewer practices in a position to bulk bill, further highlighting the need for strong and ongoing funding commitment for the sector.

“The $3.5 billion committed to bulk billing incentives, $98.2 million for new Medicare rebates for patients who require consultations of longer than 60 minutes and $445.1 million to support team-based care in general practice, are welcome measures to support the revival and protection of a healthcare system which has served us well for decades,” she said.

Other investments of interest to primary care, in particular general practices in South Western Sydney include:

  • $358.5 million for Medicare Urgent Care Clinics
  • $143.9 million for after hours primary care
  • $91.5 million to improve mental health by addressing workforce shortages

Ms Short said SWSPHN had a particular focus on innovative projects like iRAD, the New to General Practice Nursing program and My Care Partners to build capacity and support our general practices in delivering accessible, effective and timely care to our community.

She noted investment in digital health ($951.2 million); increasing the number of nurses in primary care ($10.7 million); and increasing incentives for general practices to employ a range of health professionals to provide team-based primary care ($445.1 million) would support those projects which were already improving the health of our region.

“Primary care is the cornerstone of our healthcare system, and SWSPHN looks forward to continuing to work with and support primary care providers across our region on the projects, services and other activities funded in this budget.

“We particularly welcome the focus in the budget on multidisciplinary team care and voluntary patient enrolment and look forward to seeing how it complements our local medical neighbourhood model of care, My Care Partners, which has been working for the past two years to reduce avoidable hospital admissions and enhance care coordination for people with multiple chronic diseases.”

12 December 2022

The New to General Practice Nursing Program offers support for nurses who are new, returning or transitioning to general practice within South Western Sydney.

The 12-month program provides self-directed, online access to education resources and in-house support by the dedicated Clinical Support Team at SWSPHN.

We asked program graduate Lisa Cerruto – a nurse at both Castlereagh Street Medical Centre, Liverpool and Campbelltown Medical Centre – about her experience with the New to General Practice Nursing Program.


Why did you sign up for the New to General Practice Nursing program?

I have worked primarily in aged care for 10 or more years, but I was very new to general practice so when this program was offered, I thought it would be a great way to get a better understanding of a wide range of topics which are found in general practice.


What do you enjoy about the program and have there been any challenges?

I loved the program. I found it insightful, and it helped me in many ways, as well as another nurse in my practice. The only challenge I found was time. Sometimes it’s very busy and you can have 40 or more patients in a day, so finding time was a struggle.


How do you use what you have learned in your role as a practice nurse?

New Gen certificate presentation
SWSPHN Clinical Support Coordinator Kristina Allen presenting Lisa Cerruto with her Certificate of Completion.

I have been able to utilise many things from the New Gen program in my medical centre such as:

  • The catch-up calculator
  • MBS education for health professionals
  • Guidance around how to improve reminders and recalls

Many of these things have helped significantly with putting new and improved policies and procedures into practice which, at our recent accreditation, were very helpful and we received great feedback from the accreditors.


What is the most important thing you’ve learned?

Safety and accountability. I have learnt safety is paramount in nursing especially in general practice. It is easy to make mistakes and we are all human, but we need to practice safely and be accountable when we do have an error occur. By doing this we reflect and can see where-how-why this happened and what strategies we can put in place to prevent this error from reoccurring in future.


How has SWSPHN supported you during your time in the program?

One thing I have learnt while taking part in this program is the enormous amount of support available by my PHN. Being new to general practice I was totally unaware of the help and support available and I have been pleasantly surprised and grateful for it.


Would you recommend the program to other nurses? Why?

I could not recommend this program enough. In fact, I actually recommended it to a fellow nurse in another PHN region who was very new to general practice, and she was incredibly interested but it was only offered with the SWSPHN region. She was devastated as was I. This program really helps when you have no idea what general practice entails. It should be offered in all PHNs as it could be beneficial in keeping nurses in general practice. Let’s face it, we are losing nurses left, right and centre, and COVID-19 has not helped at all, so providing this extra support could help nurses feel more empowered and confident which in turn makes them want to continue in the role.


Contact SWSPHN’s Clinical Support team to learn more:

Phone: 4632 3000
email: clinicalsupport@swsphn.com.au

Read more: New to General Practice
21 November 2022

Practice nurse Kathy Davey has worked in the Macarthur area of South Western Sydney for more than 40 years as a nurse across a number of roles in practice and primary care. Read more about Kathy’s role in her practice, Camden Central Family Practice, and why she enjoys the work she does.

How long have you been a practice nurse and how long have you been working in South Western Sydney?

I have been working in the Macarthur area for the past 41 years. I grew up in Campbelltown, I left home at 17 and started a live-in nurses training course at Concord Repatriation Hospital.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing/primary care?

I started working at Camden Hospital in 1981, before the new Campbelltown Hospital was built. I have been consistently registered with AHPRA for 41 years.

Over the years I have worked in the operating theatre and surgical and medical nursing wards in the public and private system, and recently (12 years) in private practice. I became a practice nurse to get some work/life balance.

What do you love about nursing and being a practice nurse? What is the biggest challenge of the role?

Working with people is my passion and helping people improve their health is very rewarding. I have many patients who I regard as friends. This makes my job very easy. Time is always the enemy but I always try to fulfil my workload with the best care I can give.

How do you help educate your patients about maintaining good health?

Encouraging healthy eating and exercise, and maintaining regular medication compliance are part of my day-to-day duties, as well as dressing wounds and assisting the doctor with surgical procedures, which I enjoy.

Tell me about your ideal workday!

A good workday would be caring for some of my most delightful patients and making a difference in their lives.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My hobbies are sewing and also caring for my two beautiful granddaughters.

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.