Preparing nurses for primary health care futures: how well do Australian nursing courses perform?

H Keleher, R Parker, Karen Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)


Health reform is increasingly targeted towards strengthening and expansion of primary health systems as care is shifted from hospitals to communities. The renewed emphasis on prevention and health promotion is intended to curb the tide of chronic disease and sustain effective chronic disease management, as well as address health inequities and increase affordable access to services. Given the scope of nurses' practice, the success of Australia's health system reforms are dependent on a nursing workforce that is appropriately educated and prepared for practice in community settings. This article reports on the results of an Australian national audit of all undergraduate nursing curricula to examine the extent of professional socialisation and educational preparation of nurses for primary health care. The results of the audit are compared with Australian nursing standards associated with competency in primary health care. The findings indicate that Australian nursing competencies are general in their approach to skills and knowledge, not specifying any particular competencies for primary health care, while undergraduate student preparation for practice in primary health and community settings is patchy and not keeping pace with reform agendas that promote expanded roles for nurses in primary health care, prevention and health promotion. The implication for nursing curriculum reform is that attention to achieving nursing graduate capacity for primary health care and health promotion is a priority.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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