Introduction This study aimed to describe
Maternal Child and Family Health Nurses’ (MCaFHNs) perception of their
role across Australia. MCaFHNs deliver services to positively influence
the growth and development of children in the early years. Little is
known about their role as they deliver care to children and families in
Australia. Methods This study used in-depth qualitative inquiry.
Sixteen expert MCaFHNs from the eight jurisdictions in Australia took
part in semi-structured interviews conducted from April 2013 to August
2013. The data were transcribed verbatim, validated by participants, and
Results The results indicated that the
MCaFHNs’ role is embedded in the principles of primary health care under
an umbrella of universal service delivery with increasing overall
complexity. Health promotion and early intervention are key components
of the role, with services focused heavily on child growth and
development and maternal mental health. Delivery of services by MCaFHNs
was enriched by specific approaches to care, such as working in
partnership with families, and all aspects of the role were enabled by
essential specialist skills and knowledge.
Discussion While role descriptors, educational backgrounds and experiences vary, participants overwhelmingly report similarities in practice. This study identified tangible reasons for the development of a nationally consistent role and practice in Australia, enabling consistency and equity of best models of practice. Such a description is essential to enable transferability and comparison with nurses working in similar contexts internationally.