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Lyn Scott, first hospital-based nurse prescriber for Waikato DHB

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Congratulations to Lyn Scott who has not only achieved registered nurse prescriber status (ophthalmology/eyes) recently, but did so with a high pass mark. She becomes Waikato DHB’s first hospital-based nurse prescriber.

She can now prescribe, within certain conditions, a range of medications to patients at Waikato Hospital’s Eye Clinic where she practices clinically.

For Lyn, the most important thing is that it will give many of those patients quicker access to care and more continuity for their treatments.

"It’s really important that patients with eye conditions continue their medications. Delays and inconvenience can be a deterrent," Lyn says.

"Conditions like glaucoma are long term, and patients need to keep up treatment for as long as possible to delay deterioration," she says. Post-operation cataract patients running out of eye drops is another group that will benefit from Lyn’s ability to prescribe without needing to see a specialist doctor at the clinic.

"If I have assessed someone in my professional practice, then I am able to prescribe continuation of their treatment. I can also initiate treatment in consultation with a medical specialist."

In practice it will mean some patients will be able to arrange a prescription renewal by phone and avoid even coming into Eye Clinic. For others it will mean a much shorter visit, without the need to hang around until an eye specialist is free to write the renewal.

"Ophthalmology is a growing service with high demand and in the last week the Eye Clinic saw over 200 patients in one day," she says, with conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts on the rise.

"We (clinical nurse specialists) see 60 to 70 patients in the Eye Clinic with these conditions a week, so being able to give better access to care is really important for all district health boards."

None of this achievement came without a lot of hard work and many nights away from home. Lyn did a lot of the required papers as part of her postgraduate diploma however she needed to complete additional papers plus 150 hours of mentored practical work. After this Lyn had to apply to Nursing Council before she could gain full NZ authorisation as a registered nurse (RN prescriber) with endorsement from Waikato DHB chief nursing officer Sue Hayward.

She says the support she received from colleagues, in particular clinical nurse specialist Philippa McHardie and the ophthalmologist who was her mentor, as well as from Waikato DHB’s Professional Development Unit.

Underpinning her achievement are university papers in science, pathophysiology, assessment and diagnostic reasoning and pharmacology, as well as the practice of keeping a prescribing log and reviewing the prescribing of case studies.

Lyn, who has a total of 25 years’ experience as an ophthalmology nurse, hopes in time her nurse prescriber role will grow to include some of the more acute eye clinic cases.

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