Date Published: 12 April 2009

Nursing profession focuses on health and wellbeing

Health News from Australia.

Andrew Cashin is a firm believer in a nursing profession that focuses on health and wellbeing rather than exclusively on illness, and has welcomed moves by the Federal Government to allow nurses to extend their professional skills.

Professor Cashin has taken up a position as Professor in Nursing at Southern Cross University and is already looking at ways to ensure current and future nursing students are well prepared for the changes under way in the health system.

?There is a real focus on health and wellbeing and a system where nurses can play a leading role in providing access to health care,” Professor Cashin said.

?The Federal Government, through reforms by the Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon, has made it clear that nurse practitioners will be awarded Medicare provider numbers and PBS prescribing rights.

We don't know exactly how far these reforms will go, but nursing is definitely moving away from the primary focus of hospital-based care and these legislative changes will allow it to extend to its full scope.?

Professor Cashin said the nursing profession had changed considerably over the past 10 years, with a much greater emphasis now on critical thinking, decision making and diagnostic practice.

?Nurses are not going to be restricted to traditional practice areas, but will be working more and more in primary health care settings alongside teams of healthcare providers,”he said.

This will be particularly important in regional and rural areas, which are already facing serious shortages in medical staff.

?We need to produce graduates who can confidently work in a variety of settings. We need to encourage and educate nurses who are prepared to contribute to health and wellbeing and take a leading role in primary health care,” he said.

As part of the University's focus on health and wellbeing, which is being embedded throughout its health courses, a new Academic Health Centre is being built at the Lismore campus. It will provide a venue for a range of clinical services including nursing, naturopathy, acupuncture, psychology and sport science.

As a mental health nurse practitioner, Professor Cashin believes there are great benefits in combining clinical practice, teaching and research.

He has opened a nurse practice clinic for people with autism and their families, which will operate from the existing medical centre in Goodman Plaza at the Lismore campus, until the new Academic Health Centre is completed.

?I have worked extensively with people with autism and their families and will be providing counselling and also working with families to provide positive behavioural support and teaching families about the different thinking and learning style of people with autism,”he said.

Professor Cashin has worked extensively in the mental health area and is an authorised mental health nurse practitioner. His PhD was focused on children with autism and their relationship within families, and his current research is looking at autism in prisons.

He is the vice president of the Australian Nurse Practitioners Association.



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