PapScreen Victoria recently celebrated the appointment of its 400th nurse Pap test provider, a milestone that demonstrates a welcome change in the provision of Pap tests in Victoria.
Fiona Davies, the 400th nurse, trained and worked in the United Kingdom and now works at ISIS Primary Care in St Albans and Sunshine. She is the latest of a growing number of nurses in Victoria who are qualified to take Pap tests.
The number of Pap tests taken by nurse providers in Victoria has almost doubled since 2003, with nurses collecting 3.8% of Pap tests in Victoria in 2008.
"Increasing access to qualified nurses who provide Pap tests is very important and I'm proud to be the 400th nurse. I hope there are many more to come!" said Ms Davies.
"I work in an area where the number of women having regular Pap tests is well below the state average, and as a nurse I come into contact with women who aren't proactive about their Pap tests."
"Now I can not only speak to them about the necessity of a Pap test, but I can offer to take the test myself," Ms Davies continued.
At 58.5%, Brimbank's screening rates are a long way below the Victorian average of 62.3%. That means that well over a third of women in the area are not screening adequately.
There are many advantages in nurses like Fiona being qualified to take Pap tests.
"Women can be confident that these nurses provide quality Pap tests," said Sandy Anderson, PapScreen Victoria's Nurse Coordinator.
Ms Anderson said nurse Pap test providers are provided with regular professional development opportunities coordinated by PapScreen Victoria, and their Pap testing is reviewed every three years to ensure they remain highly skilled.
Another advantage is that women have greater choice when choosing their Pap test provider.
"Some women prefer to have their Pap tests taken by a female provider, and as the vast majority of nurses are women they play an integral part of the national cervical screening program," Ms Anderson continued.
Fiona Davies and other nurses run free and confidential Women's Health Clinics at ISIS Primary Care in St Albans and Sunshine. Information and advice is available on all aspects of women's health, including Pap testing, breast health, contraception advice and menopause.
Women of any age, culture, sexuality or background can make an appointment and interpreters can be arranged where necessary. The clinics run at Sunshine on Wednesdays 9.30am-3pm and St Albans on Tuesdays 1-4.30pm and Thursdays 9.30am-2pm.
To make an appointment at one of the ISIS Primary Care Women's Health Clinics please call 9313 5000 (Sunshine) or 9296 1200 (St Albans).
Clinics are located at 122 Harvester Road in Sunshine and 1 Andrea Street in St Albans.
** A Pap test detects abnormal cell changes on the cervix, most commonly caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). If cervical changes caused by HPV are not detected and treated they can become cancerous.
** A Pap test is the only way to detect abnormal cell changes on the cervix, there are no other symptoms.
** All women aged 18-70 who have ever been sexually active need to have a Pap test every 2 years.
For more information on cervical cancer or Pap tests, or to find your nearest Pap test provider please visit www.papscreen.org.au or call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.