Responding to the needs of the Territory 


Charles Darwin University (CDU) in the Northern Territory is providing high-quality, relevant nursing education that responds to regional needs.

CDU’s Graduate School of Health Practice (GSHP) is concentrating on meeting the Territory’s need for on-going development of the nursing workforce by addressing clinical demands of Territorians and incorporating these needs into their curriculum.

Qualified nurses are able to hone their knowledge and existing skills by undertaking specialist postgraduate studies in the revised curriculum.

In a joint initiative with the Northern Territory Department of Health and Family Services, CDU’s Senior Lecturer in Child Health, Dr Sue Kruske, developed the Graduate Diploma in Child and Family Health to help improve the health of Aboriginal mothers and their children.

The course has a particular emphasis on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family health and wellbeing, and in a major innovation, it is open to experienced Aboriginal health workers with a certificate IV qualification.

GSHP’s commitment to continuing professional education is also evidenced by its leadership in developing an online education tool, Quality Use of Medicines (QUM) for nurse practitioners, developed to assist practitioners improve the quality of prescribing.

The QUM education tool promotes the holistic view of patient care by encouraging users to engage in active interaction with the patient. Users are frequently prompted to ask the patient questions and review their assessments.

Chief investigator on the project, Professor Sandra Dunn said the program offered a flexible means of continuing education for health professionals and specifically worked from a nursing perspective.

“It teaches nurse practitioners ways of engaging in collaborative negotiation with the patient, agreeing priorities and treatments together, and moves away from traditional relationships based on power and compliance,” she said.

Development of the tool started in June 2007 and will be released for wide-scale testing by nurse practitioners later this year.

Testing is scheduled to begin in October 2008, shortly before CDU’s new Masters in Nurse Practitioner starts in 2009.