Practice nurses are true generalist nurses. They provide care to patients across the life spectrum that provide true cradle to grave nursing care and health management.

The following provides an overview of the typical types of care or patient encounters that practice nurses carry out in the primary care setting of the GP surgery or clinics as part of the healthcare team. Each nurse will bring specialist knowledge or interest of a particular area to their work so may choose to work more in depth in that area, but the following offers a example of what a practice nurse does on a daily basis.

Maternal and infant health

Antenatal care
Registered midwife practice nurse, in rural and remote areas only, giving antenatal care on behalf of suitably qualified GP.

Well baby toddler
Vaccinations, measurements, meeting centiles, starting solids, nutritional advice, management of reflux, sleeping advice, referral to early childhood nurse and specialised care if indicated.

Breastfeeding mother
Breast care, feeding and attachment advice, nutritional advice for mother, monitor for signs of postnatal depression, parenting advice and referral as needed.

Healthy Kids Check
Health screen including nutrition, meeting milestones including fine and gross motor assessment, eye check/reading skills, behaviour and ability to follow instruction, social skills, level of physical activity, nutritional status and diet review and advice. Parenting advice and referral for specialised service if indicated.

Mid life

Includes 45-49 year old health check
Screening for diabetes, heart disease, cancer: Physical measurements blood pressure, taking blood for testing BSL, lipids, liver function etc, diet and lifestyle counselling, quit smoking advice and safe drinking guidelines, advice and formulation of exercise programs and referral to exercise physiologist and/or diabetes prevention programs/life scripts as well as ongoing monitoring and diet advice. Updating medical records by documenting family and past medical history and coding this data so that it can used to identify and calculate the patient’s risk of developing certain diseases. Immunisation as needed, referral for Pap test to GP or to Pap test accredited practice nurse.

50-75 year olds
As above as well as screening for osteoporosis (height loss and symptoms), bowel cancer screening, menopause advice, breast screening and mammogram referral. Discussion of additional nutritional needs.

75 years onwards
Physical assessments and measurements, mobility assessments and exercise advice/planning/referral, nutritional status and diet advice, assessment for support in the home and prepare reports for GP for referral to support agencies, geriatric assessment teams as needed, identify need for Home Medication Reviews as needed & assist with care planning.

Women’s health checks
Pap smears, sexual health checks and education.

Practice nurses also identify patients who qualify for preventative health checks. Manage recall and reminder systems to monitor that patients are receiving their appropriate preventative care e.g. immunisation and Pap smears, and follow-up care.

Chronic Disease Management (CDM)

Practice nurses help to streamline care of patients with complex chronic health problems. In many cases chronic disease management and preventative healthcare overlap.

The practice nurse contributes to CDM by:

  • Assessing patients’ health needs and ability to manage self-care
  • Collecting data and mapping the patients’ current care
  • Prepare care plans in consultation with GP and patient, and arrange new referrals as appropriate
  • Collaborating with GP and on behalf of GP with other health professionals involved in the patients’ care, collecting and collating information from referral appointments and incorporating information into patients’ care/review care plan
  • Reassessing/reviewing the patients to measure outcomes, offering support including CDM visits (item 10997), and presenting information to GP
  • Asthma care: monitoring and education, health maintenance/asthma 2+
  • Diabetes care: monitoring, education, cycle of care/health maintenance, planning.


May include but not limited to:

  • Phlebotomy
  • ECG
  • Spirometery
  • Brachial pulse index measurements
  • BSL/Glucometer
  • INR point of care test
  • Urinalysis
  • Visual acuity
  • Hearing screening
  • BHcG

Other care and treatments including:

  • Triage
  • Wound care
  • Ear syringing
  • Stock management
  • Infection control/sterilising
  • Vaccine ordering and monitoring
  • Maintaining up to date allied health and community service directory for practice

Practice nurses may also be involved with:

Occupational Health & Safety, Accreditation project management and maintaining personal professional development.

General Practise Nurse Workshops

APNA is pleased to be delivering a national series of workshops to facilitate education and networking for nurses working in general practice.  The following is a list of workshops still open for registration: –

Australian Capital Territory – Friday 15 and Saturday 16 August 2014

Novotel Canberra

Earlybird registration extended to Friday 8 August – REGISTER ONLINE


Queensland – Friday 29 and Saturday 30 August 2014

Rydges Southbank Townsville

Earlybird registration closes Friday 15 August – REGISTER ONLINE


New South Wales – Friday 24 and Saturday 25 October 2014

The Portside Centre Sydney (CBD)

Earlybird registrations closes Friday 10 October – REGISTER ONLINE

* Please note earlybird registration closes two weeks (Friday) prior to each workshop.

Earlybird: APNA member $250 / non-member $350

Standard: APNA member $290 / non-member $390

APNA’s Continuing Education Workshops for Nurses in General Practice include:

•Two day registration

•Morning/afternoon tea and lunch on both days

•Certificate with recognition of up to 10 CPD hours

•Practical tools and resources designed for nurses working in primary care

•APNA Endorsed according to approved quality standards

Workshop Program

Designed and facilitated by nurses, with a range of outstanding presenters from across disciplines, these workshops offer nurses working in primary care an engaging opportunity to network and update their expertise in:

  • Lifestyle and weight management: How nurses in general practice can lead the way in supporting patients to balance health, weight and happiness
  • Nurse clinics: Innovative strategies to establish your own nurse clinic
  • Venous leg ulcers: A new perspective using compression
  • Immunisation: How can you increase rates in your practice?
  • Innovative ways to support your work using MBS and the PNIP
  • Nurses as leaders in cardiovascular disease management
  • Chronic Kidney Disease: Identifying patients at risk
  • Managing COPD: The role of the nurse in general practice
  • Travel Health Consultation: A Practical Approach
  • The progress of nursing Australian general practice: Opportunities, information and answers


Includes a keynote presentation on Lifestyle and Weight Management from Dr Rick Kausman, author of If not dieting, then what? Dr Rick Kausman, a medical doctor based in Melbourne, is recognised as the Australian pioneer of the person-centred approach to wellbeing and healthy weight management. He has many years of experience in the field of weight management and offering training to health professionals throughout Australia and overseas.

As published on the APNA website 2014