Polishing up on Primary Care

Latest news 1 July 2016 | For the past five years Jo Eustace has juggled part time work as a practice nurse at the Waiuku Health Centre while spending between 25 and 30 hours per week studying toward her Master of Nursing. In April she passed a rigorous oral and practical peer panel assessment following a full year preparing a portfolio of work containing case studies, dissertations and proof of competency for submission to the Nursing Council. Jo is now a Nurse Practitioner – the first for Waiuku Health Centre and one of only 40 or so qualified and working within Primary Healthcare across New Zealand. She is also the Clinical Nurse Lead, supporting ten nurses and 12 busy doctors at the practice.

Jo Eustace had been a nurse for 20 years when she met a nurse practitioner working in Primary Health care. She looked up the Massey University course online that evening, made a cheeky application after the enrolment closing date, and before she knew it she was a fresh faced Massey University Master’s student focusing on Primary Healthcare.

“Over the past year my role was as a Nurse Practitioner Intern, which meant I gained lots of hands on experience while putting my portfolio together,” says Jo. “I’m now in a position where I still see things from a nursing perspective but also have the skills to assess, diagnose and treat people. I see it as a bridge between nursing and medicine where I can often answer questions that in the past I’d need to wait to ask a doctor.”

Jo says the biggest advantage to being a Nurse Practitioner is being able to give someone the whole package. 

“I’m now prescribing and can refer patients for x-rays and secondary services, which not only helps the doctors out but is an advantage for the Health Centre.”

When asked what advice she would give to any nurse considering becoming a Nurse Practitioner, Jo says to ‘go for it’. 

“It’s a huge commitment, and you’ve got to make some and room in your life for it,” she says, adding that her GP husband was very supportive while she juggled a busy home and a house full of teenagers with study.

“I strongly encourage any nurse that felt they wanted to advance that this is the way to go. We need more nurse practitioners out there and when I think back to the sort of nurse I was then and the nurse I am now, there’s no comparison.”