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Unique diabetes qualification for Hamilton registered nurse

Hamilton-based registered nurse Cathy Fraser-Reading of Pinnacle Midland Health Network practice, Hillcrest Medical Centre, has recently added a unique skill to her nursing tool-belt.

Earlier this year, Cathy became a qualified diabetes nurse prescriber, one of only two in the Waikato region.

As a qualified diabetes nurse prescriber, Cathy can now prescribe common diabetes medications to patients at Hillcrest Medical Centre's diabetes clinic. In the past, a doctor has needed to provide and make adjustments to these medications.

"In the past, my role has been to see patients with diabetes to offer support, education, provide lab forms for Annual Diabetes Reviews, interpret results, offer advice and plan care. Yet a doctor has always needed to deliver and make adjustments to their medications.

According the Cathy, the key advantage to patients with diabetes is that their appointments are streamlined. Adjustments to diabetes related medications can be made then-and-there if necessary, saving the patient time. 

 "Being able to prescribe common diabetes medications myself not only benefits the patient, but reduces pressure on other medical staff. Doctors experience fewer interruptions to their work for requests for diabetes related prescriptions". 

Cathy says her journey to become a diabetes nurse prescriber started when she undertook an internship with the Waikato Regional Diabetes Service in 2013.

"This was an innovative programme at the time in partnership with my employer, Hillcrest Medical Centre, to develop the level of diabetes expertise in the primary health care sector. 

"I had always been interested in diabetes and this internship allowed me to develop my practice to a diabetes nurse specialist level. 

"The prescribing came after completing my post graduate diploma of nursing, which included Advanced Science and Assessment, Advanced Diabetes and Pharmacology modules." 

"To complete and maintain the prescribing process I continue to attend one-to-one prescribing mentorship on a weekly basis with a doctor at the Hillcrest Medical Centre." 

Cathy says the Hillcrest Medical Centre's diabetes clinic focuses predominantly on people with Type 2 diabetes, while most people with Type 1 are under the care of the Waikato Regional Diabetes Service. 

"If someone visiting our practice has Type 1 diabetes, we always make sure they are linked into the Waikato Regional Diabetes Service and provide supportive care as appropriate". 

Cathy is particularly encouraging of other nurses who want to become diabetes nurse prescribers. 

"It is important to have a desire in the first place, the support of your practice, work colleagues behind you, and a willingness to learn". 

Diabetes nurse prescribing first became available to nurses in New Zealand in 2011. 

Nurse lead Sally Newell at Pinnacle Midland Health Network, the GP network Hillcrest Medical Centre belongs to, says diabetes nurse prescribing set the scene for further nurse prescribing in New Zealand. 

"In fact, in September new regulations came into effect meaning registered nurses authorised by Nursing Council NZ can now prescribe for a range of common and long-term conditions - not just diabetes."

"Pinnacle MHN is supportive of this development, which is in keeping with the philosophy of all members of the team working to the top of their scope of practice.

"Having the ability to prescribe will enable nurses to make a bigger contribution to primary health care.  It adds to their skills and their input into patient care.

For more information about Medicines (Designated Prescriber-Registered Nurses) Regulations 2016, click here.

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