Kerrie Duggan is happily married with four adult sons. She was born in the Huon Valley in Tasmania and has always felt a strong desire to serve her local community. This desire has motivated her to become a Nurse Practitioner (NP), as she believed the role would enable her to provide better, more holistic patient-care as a nurse in her community.

Tell us a little bit about your nursing journey.

I’ve been nursing for 40 years with qualifications in intensive care, midwifery and general practice. I have a Bachelor of Education Degree as well as Master of Nursing Science (Nurse Practitioner).

Ten years ago, I heard that the Federal Government were offering scholarships to assist with the cost of study to become a NP. At the time I was working in general practice and feelt frustrated that I couldn’t do more to help patients. I would triage and complete an initial patient assessment and know what investigations and care was needed but couldn’t progress the patient through the system. I saw a need where, with additional education, my nursing role could be expanded to provide a more complete episode of care for the patient, then book an appropriate follow up appointment with the GP where needed.

Caring for generations of families in general practice is professionally rewarding because I am privileged to know family’s health issues and how these affect other family members. I am then enabled to provide a holistic, nursing service to individuals, families and the community as a whole.

Tell us about your current role as a NP.

I work as a Primary Health Care NP, Managing Director and co-owner of Cygnet Family Practice.

Cygnet is a small, country town in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania. There is a wide variety of beliefs in health and well-being; ranging from the traditional medical model to complementary therapies. The community is growing quickly as more people are seeking relief from hotter parts of Australia and a more relaxed lifestyle. Our practice mission is “kind, holistic healthcare with a community spirit”.

The most rewarding aspect of being a NP is being able to practice at an advanced clinical level using all my expertise and experience in a nursing model where I can listen and care and make a difference to how a patient feels. I co-own the practice so I can influence policy and procedure about patient care.

What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP?

I am hoping to secure and promote the role of the Primary Health Care NP in General Practice. I would like to see at least one NP in every General Practice in Australia because I know and hear patients feedback every day on how valuable the role is to their health and well-being.

It also supports the medical model in general practice. Working in a team with a GP/NP provides holistic health care to the patients. The medical and nursing roles complement patient care.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?

Make sure you have a strong support team. This includes your partner, family, friends, medical and nursing colleagues. This is vital to surviving the journey and implementing a new role in the health care landscape in Australia.

How do you think health consumers will benefit from seeing Nurse Practitioner?

Health consumers benefit from seeing a NP because they have expert knowledge, are able to work holistically, mind, body and spirit. We see health consumers as a person, not a condition. The Primary Health Care NP is focused on health and well-being, so looks to support wellness, not only providing treatments when they are sick.