JODI HAARTSEN - MS NP

Jodi has worked for Eastern Health in Melbourne for the past 18 years and is currently a MS nurse practitioner. Jodi has worked f in  a number of positions including nurse educator, nurse manager and research nurse and  completed her Graduate  Diploma and Masters over 15 years ago and took up studying again to become  a qualified NP two years ago.

With two boys aged 14 years and 11 years, Jodi is a busy Mum and also enjoys her role at Eastern Health.  She works across varied settings to offer MS patients a high level of care in both a metropolitan and semi - rural setting.

Can you share a little about the community you are working in and the nursing you are providing to patients?

I work with around 1000 people with MS s at all stages of the disease. My focus is to provide care and service, which is patient centred and intervention that is holistic, accessible, up to date with best practices, and embedded in compassion and a deep understanding of the disease.

The majority of the time, people with MS are diagnosed between 20 and 40 years of age, and I work to provide the information, care and support they require for care that suits their individual needs in a holistic health care framework.

What is unique about your role in the community?

My role is across an acute care setting in a number of hospitals, and I also have an outpatient clinic in Lilydale for people living further out in semi rural areas, so that care is accessible local to where people  are.

As the only qualified MS nurse practitioner in Victoria, I work to offer a complete health care service to my patients and care for them through each stage of their disease process.

What is a typical day for you in your NP role?

A typical day for me in my role would be in a clinic setting, seeing patients who come in and assessing their health.

I do spend a lot of time on the phone as my patients cover a number of hospitals and areas in Melbourne and surrounds and I also answer a great deal of emails which allows me to provide faster access to information for my MS patients and their families.

I spend time helping my patients negotiate through the health care system and also manage needs of people with MS requiring acute care.

Why did you decide to become a nurse practitioner?

At 30 I was a nurse educator specialising in neurology and while I was in this position Eastern Heath established an MS service. I filled the role temporarily, however as the clinic grew, I became an integral part of the service, and enjoyed taking on a leadership role in developing and managing the clinic.

As I grew in the role, and the MS service grew, a gap in care emerged for rapid access to medical health assessment and intervention, both in the community and for people with MS while they were in the hospital having MS therapies that were given as infusions in hospitals.  Being a nurse practitioner enable me to fill this gap, and provide an innovative access program as well as provide a holistic approach to patient care. I enjoy the autonomous nature of the role, and I enjoy that in the role I can give people with MS the tools and knowledge to be actively partnering with our service in their health and wellbeing to get the outcomes that matter to them.

Getting to the position of MS Nurse Practitioner was a bit of a roundabout journey for me, and required some persistence, as there was only one other nurse practitioner in Australia.  I was very fortunate that the Victorian Government Department of Health   released funding for chronic health care models that enabled me to build a model for MS Nurse practitioner in Eastern Health.

What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as an NP?

In my role, I would like to create more innovation in service delivery that means all people with MS can have equitable access to care, services and the information they need to improve their lives with MS. In MS, early and rapid treatment has been shown to have better outcomes however gaps still exist across Australia to access care.

As part of this, I am very interested in the roles NP practitioners can play in tele-health that improves highly specialised services in rural communities

There are also many studies suggesting that improvements in lifestyles in terms of exercise, nutrition and stress management can improve people lives with MS, and I would like to lead research in this area to get a better understanding of what works and also work with people to engage in better lifestyle management.

If you weren’t an NP, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t a nurse practitioner, I would like to be in health related politics and in particular looking at community and integrated health.

The truth is, I was fortunate in some ways to be in the right place at the right time, and was able to establish an MS service that strives to offer the best care. Becoming an NP has broadened the opportunity to offer the highest level of health care to MS patients.

When I was younger, I did consider becoming a psychologist for a few years, and I also did a naturopathy degree - as it turns out, I use elements of both of these studies and concepts in my nursing anyway which is ironic.

If you were to use a few words to describe an NP what would they be?

A nurse practitioner is a highly skilled nurse that brings to patients a holistic and comprehensive health care, that improves the patient experience through more rapid access to care and services that are needed, and offers exciting opportunities for innovation in health models that can lead to better outcomes.

I am proud of the fact that I am accessible and I am ready to help my patients.