Expanding our service delivery with Nurse Practitioners

Date published

04 Feb 2020

Recently the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) identified an opportunity to increase the number of nurse practitioner roles in our aeromedical retrieval services.

In late October, our aeromedical nurse practitioner trial commenced with Acting Chief Nursing Officer, Maree Cummins, at our Brisbane Base. Over that time a number of stable high dependency patients have been transferred with both a flight nurse and nurse practitioner on board.

Employing qualified nurse practitioner’s is beneficial to the RFDS as 75 per cent of our flights are aeromedical nurse only flights. Flying with both a flight nurse and flight nurse practitioner on board will help during critical care patient transfers.

The nurse practitioner is one role that is generally underutilised, as the full benefit and flexibility of this role to profess innovation in service delivery are yet to be fully appreciated. The nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with a regulated scope of practice who are educated and authorised to function autonomously and collaboratively in an advanced and extended clinical role.

The nurse practitioner role will include assessment and management using nursing knowledge and skills. The role may include, but is not limited to, the direct referral of patients to other health care professionals, prescribing medications and ordering diagnostic investigations.

In conjunction, RFDS was recently given the opportunity to work with The University of Queensland (UQ) to support aspiring nurse practitioners. The partnership with UQ will include the establishment of a direct entry process with specific primary health care and aeromedical study streams. This partnership will assist RFDS nurses wishing to study a Master of Nurse Practitioner.

RFDS has sent out expressions of interest to all RFDS nurses who might be interested in the January intake at UQ. Three of the places available are Commonwealth-supported to assist with course fees.

There is also a further opportunity to assist nursing staff to pursue nurse practitioner studies thanks to a recently established Bursary to honour past Townsville aeromedical nurse practitioner, Loretto Harvey.

Please contact Maree Cummins at mcummins@rfdsqld.com.au if you would like to know more about this initiative.