New Nurse Practitioner
Allison Cummins has more than 25 years experience as a nurse, which she draws on each day to care for people living in aged care facilities in Sydney Local Health District.
The recently qualified Nurse Practitioner is one of nine nurses in the District's Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) outreach team, which supports 4500 residents in almost 60 aged care facilities. The team work with medical colleagues to provide timely responses to referrals from GPs, facilities and hospital discharges.
"I see myself as more of an artist than a scientist. Communication is so important working in aged care. Communication with the patient, their family, with each other in the team, and making sure we are responding to people's wishes," Allison said.
"The overwhelming majority of patients we meet are at the end of their life. Good nursing care makes a difference at that stage of life when it comes to symptom management, families feeling included and patients having the opportunity to ask questions"
"Our role is about giving them the dignity and respect they are entitled to. If we have done that, then we've done a good job," said Allison.
Allison recently qualified as a Nurse Practitioner, which allows her to diagnose, prescribe and order tests, including pathology.
"This is especially helpful in the response to COVID-19 when the outreach team has worked with aged care facilities and the public health unit to complete tests, record data and develop outbreak management plans", Allison said.
She received the qualification and endorsement after completing a Master's degree involving supervision, clinical work and the logging of 5000 hours of advanced practice. Allison said it is a qualification that recognises the important work that nurses do.
"I'm passionate about building nursing capability and the practitioner pathway is a great way to encourage nurses to develop in the clinical space and take on opportunities to mentor and teach."
"It is also a recognition of the diverse and important role nurses play in our healthcare system", Allison said.
The District's Clinical Director of Aged Care, Dr John Cullen, said Allison's endorsement is a great enhancement for the outreach team.
"Responding to the needs of residents in aged care facilities can require a complex and often sensitive approach" Dr Cullen said.
"Allison's qualification as a Nurse Practitioner enhances the team's ability to deliver timely access to care. Importantly for elderly or vulnerable residents, this means a healthcare response which is appropriate and considerate of their individual circumstances."
There are currently 20 nurse practitioners, including Allison, in the District.
Two of Allison's colleagues in the District's Residential Aged Care Facility outreach team are also in the process of completing their nurse practitioner qualifications.