Introduction Primary health care nurses (PHCNs) frequently report being interested in sexual health care, believe sexual health care is important, see sexual health care as part of their role and want to further develop their skills in this field. However recent Australian studies demonstrate that opportunities for PHCNs in sexual health care in general practice appears to be underdeveloped and under supported.
Methods The Australasian Society for HIV Medicine (ASHM), NSW STI Programs Unit and Australian Primary Health Care Nurse Association (APNA) consulted PHCNs in NSW about their current role, interest in sexual health care and what they believed would assist to further develop their role in this field. Partnerships were formed between NSW primary health care organisations (Medicare Locals), public sexual health services, Family Planning NSW and training providers to also identify how to respond to the identified need.
Results Key strategies identified by PHCNs to enhance their role in sexual health care in general practice included the development of competency standards, provision of online training and strong support from GPs. A multi-pronged approach has been undertaken using competency standards and clinical tools to support education and practice, clinical placements in sexual health services to further develop skills and practical resources such as how to bill patients to support this change of practice.
Conclusion PHCN are interested in expanding their role in general practice and are in a pivotal position to lead significant changes in general practice for the provision of sexual health care to the community. Key elements to assist this include effective support from GPs, the provision of clinical tools and education and opportunities to connect with sexual health services. Finally primary health care nurses’ own determination and perseverance to take a lead role in sexual health care is critical to the success of this practice change.
Disclosure of interest statement The NSW STI Programs Unit is funded by NSW Health. No pharmaceutical grants were received in the development of this project.
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