Primary health care as a philosophical and practical framework for nursing education: rhetoric or reality?
At least three decades after primary health care (PHC) swept the nursing profession; it is time to re-examine the philosophical shift to a PHC framework in pre-registration nursing curricula and review factors that may impede or promote the full integration of PHC as a course philosophy and a contemporary approach to professional practice. The main goal of traditional nurse education has been to prepare graduates for training in the acute care setting.
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However, there is still a strong focus on getting nurses ready for primary health roles in the community that focus on preventing illness and promoting health. This is because there is more and more evidence that healthcare systems aren’t meeting the needs and challenges of different groups of people. There are also economic reasons to reduce the disease burden, which is caused by rising chronic and complex diseases and healthcare costs. PHC is a model for nursing pre-registration programs worldwide, including in Australia. This helps prepare graduates to work well in a variety of settings. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that when PHC is adopted as programme philosophy, it is not always well integrated across the curriculum. To create a modern nursing workforce that is strong and ready to work in both hospital and community settings, pre-registration nursing programs must think about and address the factors that affect the integration of PHC philosophy into the curriculum.