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Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioner Scholarship for Grampians Loddon-Mallee region

Photo: Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioner Scholarship for Grampians Loddon-Mallee regi....
Orticare is the Grampians Loddon Mallee Pharmacotherapy Network, one of five area-based networks in Victoria. We are working to create better access to pharmacotherapy services for all clients living in this region.

One of Orticare’s current workforce development priorities is to increase the number and capacity of Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioners (NPs) in the catchment.  NPs constitute a significant value-add to the pharmacotherapy service system and to the AOD service system more broadly, as they are able to offer diagnostic and prescribing expertise while operating from a holistic nursing framework.

To help achieve this goal, Orticare is currently offering scholarships to Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioner Candidates working in the Grampians or Loddon Mallee Regions. The scholarships provide financial support towards completion of the Masters of Nursing Practice (Nurse Practitioner) qualification.
Brett Vallance is a Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioner working with Ballarat Community Health, he described his experience of becoming a NP and the support provided by the health service.

“The study itself was enjoyable in terms of broadening of knowledge and the challenging of ideas. Online delivery was flexible which certainly helped with the challenge of managing other work and life demands. I worked fulltime, studied 2 units per semester and have a young family, so it was busy.

“Ballarat Community Health was very supportive and flexible. I was able to control my diary and study leave hours were also available.

Now that he is qualified Brett splits his time, working as a Drug and Alcohol Nurse Practitioner three days a week and in non-residential withdrawal two days a week.

The NP clinic commenced in September 2017 and currently has about twenty Medication Assisted Treatment of Opioid Dependence (MATOD) patients. This patient cohort has been built from referrals from GPs, pharmacists and AOD (Alcohol and Other Drug) team colleagues.

Brett said he would recommend being a NP as it’s a rewarding and challenging role.

“On a system level it fills a gap around lack of MATOD prescribers. As well, in a rural setting with no residential withdrawal beds, a NP can assist these patients to withdraw, this forms the majority of my client base. NPs can be flexible in meeting client needs and can provide timely access to treatment when client motivation is high.”

For more information on the Nurse Practitioner Scholarships please visit https://bchc.org.au/orticare/. 

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