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Australian Practice Nurse Immunisation Scholarships: An Evaluation Study

  • Year: 2009
  • Author: Smith, Colleen; Heartfield, Marie
  • Journal Name: Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing, The
  • Journal Number: Vol. 27, No. 1
  • Country: Australia

Objective: This paper reports on an evaluation of an Australian Government program to improve immunisation services in primary care settings through the provision of scholarships to support access to education for Practice Nurses (PNs). Design: The study used a constructivist evaluation methodology to evaluate satisfaction with and effectiveness of a scholarship program to support PNs access to immunisation education and changing nursing immunisation practice. Setting: Australian Divisions of General Practice and General Practices Subjects: Twenty seven PNs who had received immunisation scholarships completed an online survey. Sixty four Division of General Practice (DGP) staff, representing state and territory, urban and rural regions of Australia, participated in telephone focus group interviews. Results: The scholarships and scholarship processes were viewed positively by PNs. The access to scholarship information, the selection process and the time the scholarship allowed to complete an immunisation course were rated highly. Online learning was seen as an effective means to undertake immunisation education particularly for PNs in the rural sector. Overall, there was overwhelming support for the continuation of scholarships to assist PNs access to education opportunities to improve immunisation services. These opportunities were reported to improve their knowledge and skills which lead to changes in immunisation practice and the quality of care they provided to patients. They also helped overcome geographical and professional isolation. Conclusions: As PNs emerge as key players in the improvement of immunisation services in Australia, the provision of government assistance for continuing education is an important strategy to produce this appropriately skilled workforce.

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