Sharlene Milich (NP) had been traveling across Australia when she realised there was a need for Emergency Nursing. She decided to begin her nursing journey, and eventually found an interest in pursuing a career as a Primary Health Nurse. Happily married with a husband who is always supportive of her NP journey, Sharlene pursued the challenges of becoming an NP whilst taking care of her 2 amazing sons who have continued to inspire her.
Please tell us about your nursing journey.
Nursing has always been my passion. At the age of 17, I decided to leave school and commence my profession as a carer in the Aged Care sector. I was encouraged by a colleague at the local country hospital to undertake further education to become an Emergency Nurse. From that time I was determined to further my career, and specialised in many areas including emergency nursing, women's health, paediatrics and mental health.
After traveling across Australia, I realised there was a large need for Emergency Nursing. This pushed me to begin my nursing journey, and I enrolled to study externally at the University of South Australia while working at the local hospital.
I worked for 6 years in areas of nursing including; emergency department; theatre; and wards of our local country hospital. I had the opportunity to join a medical centre in 2007 as a Registered Nurse (RN), working in Primary Health. In this role I found my passion for primary health care and eventually set up and led a clinic specializing in preventative health, extending my specialty to include women’s health and sexual health.
In 2015, I mentored an NP through her Pap Smear Provider Course during her NP studies. She inspired me to consider the possibilities of the NP role. Due to limitations of my current practice in the Primary Health sector, I commenced my Masters of NP studies through the University of Queensland to pursue my own journey to become an NP.
Tell us your current role as a NP.
My role as a NP includes a variety of challenges each day. I work in collaboration with 8 General Practitioners (GPs), 3 medical registrar's and 2 student doctors. We operate a busy medical practice in Loxton, country South Australia and provide a range of services from general consultations, immunization advice, acute care and sexual health.
The most rewarding aspect for me as an NP is the ability to provide a holistic approach. This enables me to work with the patient from assessment through to diagnosis and treatment, which is extremely satisfying for me professionally.
Being a passionate team player, I am also proactive in managing our nurse team of 9. Communication and problem solving are skills demonstrated in this role.
Alongside working at the medical practice, I also do locum work rural and remote at the Mallee border health centre, which borders the state of Victoria and South Australia.
What influenced your decision to become a NP? Why did you choose your scope of practice?
My NP mentor, Di, encouraged me and believed in my capabilities. She made me recognise my strengths and weaknesses as a nurse and has been a great source of inspiration for me to pursue the role. I don't feel I chose the scope of practice I am in at the present, it just felt right. I love having a diverse patient range as every day is different. My scope of practice and learning opportunities are increasing daily.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP.
I want to continue and improve my holistic approach as a NP and have the time to listen to the patients as well as making a difference daily.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP.
Make sure you are supported and choose a solid, accredited university program.
Having a great support system from health professionals to family and friends is essential.
Organise a solid team to support and mentor you through the NP journey. Not only before or during the journey, but most importantly after you are endorsed as a new NP. The team must have an endorsed NP, an experienced GP, and a pharmacist. Work with the pharmacist to understand their business and policies. Ask questions, be involved in any training, education sessions and most importantly always remember that when you are endorsed, the learning curve goes straight up, there is no gradual process.
How do you think health consumers will benefit from seeing Nurse Practitioners?
Health consumers will benefit as they will recognise they have been listened to. As a NP, being able to provide holistic care and have the time to include preventative care in the consultation is an advantage.
Having passionate NP specialising in their chosen field is a benefit not only for the whole health team; it will save government dollars in treating chronic diseases and promote preventative health.
Involving the NP in the management plan will improve good patient outcome and assist people to stay in their own homes through preventative care.