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APNA conference engages the world

International experts brought lessons on leadership, infectious and chronic disease, and mental health and career frameworks to an Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association conference on the Gold Coast.

Brave to Bold, the APNA national conference, featured a range of experts from Africa, New Zealand and the US converging to share international experiences.

The director of the Qualitas Consortium and director of service improvement for Canterbury District Health Board in New Zealand, Brian Dolan, gave a keynote presentation, surrounding lessons in leadership, culture and influence.

“People engagement is a core part of any leadership program. In order to be able to develop and grow, they need to be growing personally, because first people change and then organisations change,” Dolan said.

He added that an organisation’s structures are the anatomy, but the heart of change is in the processes and levels of engagement.

Dr Sheila Tlou, director of the UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa, also spoke at the conference. Her presentation surrounded a shared vision for women and girls in the era of HIV and AIDS.

Tlou also presented at a half-day APNA forum in Canberra. The event focused on the contribution that models of primary care nursing are making to improving health outcomes and addressing challenges facing systems around the world.

She discussed ways communities could be supported in reducing infectious and chronic disease, drawing upon her experience as minister of health for Botswana. Speaking to Nursing Review, Tlou said that in Botswana "in the rural areas where there is no doctor, the family nurse practitioner is really the one person who is holding the fort, together with the primary healthcare nurses, as well as the family once they're educated. This is the primary healthcare worker who mobilises the community and ensures that people come to the health centre or the health centre comes forward with you."

Tlou shared the forum's panel with Dr Mary Moller, an advanced registered nurse practitioner and associate professor at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, in the US. Moller discussed an international perspective on non-communicable diseases.

Moller, who was previously director of the psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner specialty at the Yale University School of Nursing, said: “I was a delegate to the UN a couple of years ago when they had their very first high-level meeting on trying to establish mental health conditions, in particular depression and anxiety, as officially on the list of non-communicable diseases.”

At the forum, Moller discussed data from the meeting at the UN and where the research is now.

Deborah Davies, primary healthcare nurse development consultant with the MidCentral District Health Board in New Zealand, was also part of the forum. Davies focused on how primary healthcare nurses working to their full scope can deliver better health outcomes, providing a New Zealand perspective.

“One of the key messages that I've been keen to share with my Australian colleagues is the necessity for a clear career framework, with an underpinning knowledge and skills or competency-based program that clearly outlines the scope of registered nurses.”

Davies provided some examples of statistics from New Zealand of the work that’s been done in the career framework space and implementing that framework in the last seven years.
“With the [health board] I work in, we've got the lowest GP-to-patient ratio in the country," Davies said. "We've got the highest nurse practitioner-to-patient ratio in the country, simply through implementing that career framework.”

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