Australian College of Nurse Practitioners winner of the Bank First Business Innovation Award

Meet Rachel Page, she is a Child/Adolescent and Young Adult Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and the recipient of the Bank First Business Innovation Award. 

The below interview was originally published in the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners member e-magazine ‘In Focus’ May edition and re-posted with permission.

Where’s work?

Teens Matter 2 – Private Practice across two clinics on Brisbane’s Northside. 

A unique mental health service offering support and intervention to young people and their families. A comprehensive service based on a nursing framework with the invaluable support of Hugo the therapy dog!

Years as an NP:

9 years as a Nurse Practitioner with 6 of those in Private Practice. 

What does this award mean to you?

This award has helped me truly cement the importance of the business I have established. In 2015, after identifying a significant gap in service delivery for children, adolescents and young adults with mental health issues I pioneered a private Nurse Practitioner led Child, Teen and Young Adult Mental Health Clinic (Teens Matter 2) on Brisbane’s Northside. 

I had identified an at risk and vulnerable cohort, and as such established Teens Matter 2, which aimed to enhance access to financially sustainable service delivery, reduce barriers to service provision and create equity in service accessibility. The goal being to enhance mental health outcomes, mitigate risk and support vulnerable populations.  

Since establishment, I have been honoured and privileged in supporting over 350 young people and their families, to improve their social, emotional and mental health. This award will allow me the opportunity to continue to work toward greater outcomes for the lives of my clients and their families. This award will allow my practice the sustainability to continue to expand, adapt and remain flexible to meet the target population. 

Recognition of my work in this field through receipt of this award is a personal achievement and one I feel genuinely blessed to receive. However I would also hope it is a motivator for other aspiring private practice Nurse Practitioners out there to take the risk and embark on what is a truly rewarding journey in their chosen career.

Why did you decide to become an NP? 

Having been a Registered Nurse for many years, I always wanted to expand my scope and offer a more enhanced service. I wanted the opportunity to provide my clients with the ‘complete experience’. 

I had acquired many skills over the years (both practical and theoretical) however as a Registered Nurse even working in an advanced role, I felt limited in my capacity to deliver the services I felt were inherent to a favourable trajectory within the realm of mental health recovery. I had seen many clients and families need to access multiple services to obtain the comprehensive service they needed to meet their specific needs. I saw families exhausted trying to facilitate appointments between services, having additional stressors of referrals and pathways challenging to navigate. All complicated by the distress of their young person in need of support; and as parents, feeling stretched emotionally.  Becoming a Nurse Practitioner meant an opportunity to be able to offer this comprehensive service whilst still encompassing the framework of the Nursing Model of care which is so integral to the profession.

Becoming a Nurse Practitioner was more than the recognition of my experience and my passion, it was an opportunity to fully immerse myself in the clinical role that stands Nursing out from the crowd. I am passionate in my clinical service delivery and saw studying for my Nurse Practitioner as a way to continue working clinically in a field of such high demand. This has become more relevant since my endorsement, with the recognition that there is certainly a paucity of child and adolescent mental health Nurse Practitioners in my region. 

What do you enjoy most about your role as an NP?

What’s not to love about the role of the Nurse Practitioner! 

In my area, I am passionate about creativity in service delivery whilst embedded in evidence based frameworks. I love the ability to support young people and their families and walk with them along their frequently challenging and emotionally strained journey to recovery and enhanced functionality. I enjoy being able to see the ‘bigger picture’ and incorporate the entire person and their family/support network in delivery of my clinical services. 

I am truly passionate around my enhanced capacity to understand the intricacies that may be impacting individual health trajectories and explore pathways that are functional, achievable, and creative. I am passionate that my training has allowed me the expertise and the knowledge to understand and manage mental ill health and communicate this to families who are experiencing a heightened level of vulnerability. 

I am dedicated to clinical health outcomes and appreciate the unique role a Nurse Practitioner plays in contributing to these. This is coupled with filling gaps in service delivery where there is a sparsity of available services to meet the overwhelming clinical demand. I enjoy having the autonomy to implement my skill and knowledge in understanding the unique interplay between health and ill health and the enhanced capacity to diagnose, interpret and provide a full spectrum of health care individual to each of my clients.

What advice would you give to a NP who is wishing to start their own business?

Starting my own business was by far one of the biggest leaps of faith I have ever done, however it has been so very worth it. Having worked in the public sector for many (many) years, I had seen how many families fall through the cracks in service delivery. I had seen first-hand a missed opportunity to explore factors potentially impacting on health outcomes, and trajectory for recovery. I had a vision of how I would want to be supported and treated and as such developed a business model based on this. 

Six years later, I have a thriving private practice where the demand outweighs my current capacity! This is not something I had ever in my wildest dreams imagined!
For anyone thinking about starting their own business, I say DO IT! It is challenging, exhausting, and demanding; but it is also so very rewarding, fulfilling and exhilarating! Certainly, there are risks involved however having taken that leap, I have first hand experience at how these risks are mitigated by enhanced clinical outcomes, overwhelming patient satisfaction and what I can truly say is a completely rewarding career path. 

I can hand over heart advocate that I work to my full scope, I can fully appreciate the inherent value a Nurse Practitioner can offer a client and have witnessed the true appreciation that comes with a model of service delivery embedded in nursing values. 

My advice, talk to as many Nurse Practitioners in private practice as you can, build on your vision, embrace the skill, knowledge, and true passion that Nurses possess and let creativity be your guiding factor, take the risk! Do not let the ‘what if’s’ halter you; your vision can be your reality and as such can be the reality of your future clients who demand and value the unique and invaluable service you can offer. As Claude T. Bissell says – “Risk more than others think is safe, care more than others think is wise, dream more than others think is practical, expect more than others think is possible!”