As a direct response to the very real issue of General Practice workforce issues, ProCare is looking at solutions to support primary care.
The first initiative that ProCare (New Zealand’s largest network of health professionals) is looking to roll out over the next few months is a bespoke six-week training module which will equip Registered Nurses currently working within other sectors with the required knowledge, skills and accreditations they need to enter General Practice. ProCare’s Director of Nursing, Gabrielle Lord, answers some questions.
How do we know there’s a workforce issue?
We are engaging every day with our network of more than 170 general practices in Tamaki Makaurau, and we hear their frustrations. Nursing numbers are a concern across the sector, but particularly within General Practice, where a recent report (the NZNO Strategy for Nursing 2018 – 2023 report) tells us that 50% of the workforce will be retired by 2035.
Our nursing workforce have born the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeping NZ safe and they are tired. Nurses from across both primary, secondary and community care are also being pulled into the Covid vaccination effort. This has seen recruitment of nurses for general practice move from being challenging, to almost impossible, so we wanted to look to find ways to increase the number of nurses trained and available to work in our crucial side of the sector.
What are the existing barriers?
Nurses working in General Practice require specialist training to be able to provide the preventative care, and treatment to their communities. Any registered nurse currently practicing would normally need to complete a raft of additional training, at their own expense, to be able to hit the ground running in a General Practice – including certificates in diabetes, vaccinator training to enable the nurse to become an authorised vaccinator and a cervical screening certification. There are nuances to General Practice that a nurse working in secondary care will be unfamiliar with, and without the right support and guidance they might decide the process of re-training and the unfamiliarity of moving into a new environment is not for them. We hear of nurses wanting to move to General Practice for reasons such as work-life balance but for the reasons mentioned above, as well as a reluctance for often stretched General Practice teams to be able to train nurses on the ground, we are often unable to secure them for work.
What are the benefits of working in General Practice?
Work/ life balance is the number one highlight of General Practice – there’s no shift work, and as community settings they provide a flexible, supportive environment. There are also opportunities to specialise, for instance in long term condition management, women’s health, care of the elderly, mental health and more. Working within the General Practice setting is a huge privilege as a nurse, as you get to work alongside patients, their whānau and the wider community to make real differences, seeing the results of frontline, preventative care which is highly rewarding. We know Māori and Pacific people die at least 10 years earlier than the general population; it is only through early interaction and appropriate intervention that we can change these outcomes – to be involved in this work is an honour.
What is ProCare’s new programme all about and how will it help solve the problems you’ve mentioned?
Our Primary Nurse Training Programme has been specially developed to give a Registered Nurse the best, completely free introductory training to prepare them for life as a Practice Nurse. We don’t believe anything like this has been done before in New Zealand. Some of what we are offering across the six weeks of training includes:
Up to date training for GP Practice Management Systems
Education around General Practice funding streams
Education around PHOs and General Practice in terms of organisational structure etc
A mix of office-based training and hands on practical experience within a general practice setting
How has the response been since you announced the programme?
We have been amazed at the positive response and levels of enquiry, both from practices wanting to get involved and help support a nurse in training, and from registered nurses wanting to be a part of the programme. The first tranche of trainees starts in mid-August and we are already planning further blocks of training before the end of the year. We also have shared the concept of this training with our regional PHO and National Nurse Leaders and they are very keen to follow the process we undertake, and to understand the learnings and outcomes.
What other workforce initiatives do you have in mind?
ProCare has a range of workforce development and investment ideas that will see us partner with Universities, the Royal NZ College of General Practitioners as well as the DHBs and other industry partners. These initiatives will see us roll out a series of similar, meaningful and impactful programmes aimed at bolstering the wider primary healthcare workforce and we will share the details of these in the coming months.
How can interested practices/ nurses get in touch?
They should email Jess Heron (Senior Recruitment Advisor) at firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information:
External Communications Advisor
021 933 914
ProCare is a co-operative of healthcare teams across Tamaki Makaurau providing primary and community-based care to over 760,000 whānau. As an organisation ProCare is committed to improving the health outcomes of New Zealanders by delivering world-leading healthcare services backed by clinical excellence.