Being strategic: utilising consumer views to better promote an expanded role for nurses in Australian general practice

Kay Price, Elizabeth Patterson, Desley Hegney
Collegian: Journal of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia 2006, 13 (4): 16-21
Australian consumers have articulated their perceptions of the role of the nurse in general practice. Practice Nurses (PNs) and General Practitioners (GPs) have also highlighted the issues they believe currently and potentially impact on this role in Australia. This paper identifies and discusses the nexus between the consumers' perceptions and expectations and health professionals' issues. Data collected from focus groups and interviews in 2 Australian studies of consumer perception of nursing in general practice, are re-considered alongside findings reported in the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Nursing, Australia report; General Practice Nursing in Australia. Consumers, doctors and nurses working in general practices in Australia, raised similar issues. However, consumers considered these issues in relation to their health care needs, whereas the GPs and PNs tended to focus more on professional and structural tensions related to the current and potentially expanded role of the PN. Understanding consumer views vis-a-vis issues raised by PNs and GPs about the role of nursing in general practice provides direction for both professions to better work with consumers to enhance their understanding of what general practice services could be and how changes, like expanding the role of nurses, may bring about improvements in the health outcomes of consumers. Health professionals can benefit from reflecting on the experiences and expectations of consumers if they desire to make general practice services more responsive to individual consumer's needs and at the same time adopt a primary health care focus.

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