After spending many years working in Primary Care, Meredith Prestwood wanted to expand her skills and knowledge, and started the Nurse Practitioner (NP) pathway. She is now working as a lead position for a hospital avoidance program, being a part of a truly efficient collaborative environment with other health professionals to provide the best care for high acuity patients.
Tell us about your nursing journey.
I graduated as a Registered Nurse (RN) in 1991 from University of Tasmania. Throughout my career, I have worked as a RN in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. In Queensland, I began my work in Primary Care (General Practice). I quickly developed a love for it and wanted to expand my knowledge, so I pursued qualifications in immunisation endorsement, Pap Smear provider, wound management and I became a diabetes educator.
I was supported by the General Practice I worked in to undertake my Master of Nursing Science (NP) and became endorsed as a NP in 2011. I continued to work within the General Practice as a NP for 5 years before moving to the public sector to undertake the team lead/NP position of a new, innovative hospital avoidance program.
Tell us about your current role as a NP.
I lead a hospital avoidance program where I work in a shared care arrangement with General Practitioners (GP) and Primary Care NPs to provide high acuity care at home for patients who would otherwise have had to present to the emergency department for treatment and/or admission.
I think the fact that I can work to the full extent of my scope is extremely rewarding. Recognition from patients and my peers is also rewarding particularly in the context of improved patient outcomes by being able to provide an efficient, professional service.
My role is unique because I do work in a shared care arrangement with GPs/NPs. This is also a strength because it highlights the truly collaborative nature of a successful health service.
What influenced your decision to become a NP? Why did you choose your scope of practice?
I was influenced to become a NP because I wanted to formalise the knowledge that I had attained working in Primary Care and to work to the full extent of my scope. I was encouraged to do so by my peers. I chose my scope of practice through the many years that I spent working within primary care, and my love for that area of nursing.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as a NP?
I am hoping to show that the role of the NP is an integral part of the health system. I hope to do this by simply proving this by the way that I work, the collaborative relationships that I have developed and the positive influence the role has made. I also hope to encourage more RNs to choose this path.
What advice do you have for anyone wanting to become a NP?
I would encourage anyone with the experience and ability to pursue this path.
How do you think health consumers will benefit from seeing NP?
In my current role, working in a shared care arrangement with the patient’s usual GP, I am able to assess, diagnose, prescribe and refer patients. This ensures an efficient, high level clinical, professional service that allows these patients to avoid hospital admissions and presentations.