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Breaking down the silos

Traditional health roles will be challenged by the shift to teamwork, says a chief nurse. Linda Belardi reports

Graduates will need to be prepared to work in transdisciplinary environments as health professionals start to work together more says South Australia’s senior nursing adviser, Associate Professor Lydia Dennett.

“Traditionally nurses, doctors and allied health professionals have operated fairly independently of each other,” she told Nursing Review.

“But increasingly there is a great recognition that by bringing those professions closer together and working more in a team model, we can truly deliver holistic care to the patient.”

Dennett said interprofessional learning would also need to be a stronger feature in undergraduate education.

“This type of training is beginning to be developed and embraced by universities. There are some very good international examples of where this has worked particularly well, such as in the UK, and I think we’ll see that emerging more and more in Australia.”

Dennett said technology would also allow nurses to work smarter in delivering patient care. Higher expectations from patients and emerging nursing roles in the community and primary care would transform practice in the next 10 years.

“The general public has greater expectations of healthcare providers and the healthcare system and that can be confronting for some nurses and midwives, particularly as patients want to participate more in their care and the decision-making process.

“This will drive nurses and midwives to critically evaluate what it is that they do and very much look to evidence-based practice to make sure that nurses are delivering the very best standard of care,” she said.

Reflecting on the progress of nurse practitioners in SA, Dennett said NPs were yet to realise their full potential, especially in country and remote areas of the state.

But she said this advanced practice role is predicted to grow in the next three to five years – providing people with better access to care.

On nursing leadership and policy, Dennett said fostering strong nursing role models was critical.

“It’s also about educating and supporting our nurses and midwives to feel confident to articulate their demands in relation to advocating for patients and the consumers.

“Nurses do need to become a little bit smarter and more articulate in how they put their case to government and being cognisant of the political environment.”

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