Home' International Nurses Day : Intenational Nurses Day Contents NAA H47
Saturday, May 8, 2010 THE AGE
13 22 43 mycareer.com.au
Practice nurse Carmen
Pearce-Brown chats to
Jill about her health.
Chronic conditions call for constant
monitoring and assessment. Nurses working
in medical clinics are well placed to help
patients achieve optimal health.
The needs of people with chronic
illness are vastly different from
those with acute conditions and
our health system needs to change
and adapt to meet increasing
Registered nurse Carmen Pearce-
Brown works at the coal-face, helping
people with chronic conditions
develop the skills and knowledge they
need to better manage their illness.
Ms Pearce-Brown works in a general
practice in Canberra where she
specialises in chronic care. Her role is
to support people with these
conditions, identifying their issues,
providing up-to-date information and
linking them with other allied health
''The incidence of chronic illness is
on the rise and health services need
to adapt so they are better positioned
to assist these people,'' she says.
''People live with their condition 24
hours a day, seven days a week, often
for the rest of their lives. So the
impact on their lifestyle, work and
family life is significant.
''They have to adapt to the
demands of their condition. For
example, they may have
to attend regular
appointments, take more
time off work, change
their diet, eat at set
times (in the case of
diabetes), restrict or
modify their exercise
those with respiratory
''My role is to support
them in establishing an
and help them achieve
optimal health. This includes
educating people about how they can
avoid or minimise flare-ups and
identify early warning signs of an
attack or problem, so they can take
''I can help them recognise when it
is necessary to seek medical help, so
they are treated early in the piece.
The earlier the treatment, the better
Ms Pearce-Brown, a member of the
Royal College of Nursing Australia, is
doing a PhD on how the health
system can support people with
chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
''By working collaboratively with
COPD patients, we can identify their
issues and link them with the most
appropriate health services.''
Ms Pearce-Brown says it is vital for
health professionals to be educated
and skilled in chronic illness so they
can provide the most effective care.
''It is important that we have
specialists in this area --- people who
can recognise their special needs.
''For example, I had a patient with
COPD come to me for a swine flu
vaccination. She revealed to me she
wasn't feeling particularly well on that
day and I was able to ascertain that
she was in a stage of having an
''COPD waxes and wanes and I
knew it was not a good time for
immunisation, so we held off.''
She says people with chronic illness
are more vulnerable to complications
if they catch flu, so it is vital they are
vaccinated against the virus.
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