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RDN funding used to improve practice services in Shoalhaven

12th July 2021

Registered Nurse Natalie Sleeman has used the Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) to increase the care she can provide, ultimately relieving appointment waiting periods in her local community.

“The HWSP funding has allowed nurses like myself to upskill so that we are qualified to perform a wide range of interventions on behalf of the GP.Natalie_PMP image

“This saves the GP a significant amount of time and allows them to see a higher patient load,” said Natalie.

The HWSP provides scholarships and bursaries to help health professionals in rural and remote Australia retain and enhance their skills, capacity and scope of practice.

As the Clinical Services Manager of four general practices in Shoalhaven, Natalie received HWSP funding to complete courses such as a Graduate Certificate in ECG interpretation, Skin Cancer Dermoscopy for nurses, and Implanon insertion and removal.

Natalie says her knowledge and clinical skills are used to support the GPs she assists, enable better outcomes for her patients, and crucially, she has shared her skills with other nurses in her practice.

“The Dermoscopy for nurses course provided me with education about cutting edge technologies in skin cancer treatments, and I was able to share these with my colleagues and enhance the way we manage skin cancers in the practice.

“I now have the skills to identify concerning skin lesions and alert the GPs to these so that lesions can be treated early to avoid more extensive procedures and improve outcomes for our patients,” said Natalie.

Natalie says access to the HWSP motivated her clinicians to upskill in unique areas, such as aviation or dive medicine, so that rural practices can offer speciality services where access to a specialist is limited.

Access to the HWSP funding has meant that education and training instantly becomes affordable and achievable.

“Without access to this funding, we would have a workforce that becomes stagnant in their learning and development of skills,” said Natalie.

“The upskilling I have been able to complete through the HWSP has improved not only my scope of practice, but also the service we offer our patients.”

The HWSP is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health, administered in New South Wales by NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN). 

To find out more about the Health Workforce Scholarship Program, or to check your eligibility to apply for funding, visit our website.

Pictured: Natalie Sleeman, Clinical Services Manager in Shoalhaven, front row first on the left with her nursing team.

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