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Purpose and Mission
Practice nurses, short for general practice nurses, perform a wide variety of support roles in hospitals, clinics and doctor’s offices. One primary function of practice nurses is to reduce the workload on general practitioners and provide more rapid access to healthcare for patients.
PNs also counsel patients with health problems related to their lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking too much alcohol, nutrition, immunisations, and prevention and management of chronic disease (cardiovascular disease, asthma and diabetes).
Most practice nurses report to a nursing supervisor or department head. When working for a GP in a private practice, a practice nurse typically reports to the doctor / owner / partner of the practice.
Practice nurses only have limited direct supervisory responsibilities in most cases, with some exceptions, as senior PNs often train and oversee new nurses. Many practice nurses decide to take additional training and move on to a specialist nursing role after a year or two of general practice.
Practice nurses are usually registered nurses (having earned a bachelor’s degree in most cases). Some have worked as enrolled nurses before going back to school to become an RN.
Keep in mind that RNs must have a valid Nursing Registration with the AHPRA (Australian Health Practitioners Agency) to work hands-on with patients.
Responsibilities of a Practice Nurse
Note that practice nurses often work as part of a team of health care professionals, including doctors, other nurses, technicians and therapists.
Some of the typical responsibilities of a practice nurse include: