Tash Jennings is a passionate NP who divides her time working as an emergency NP at The Alfred hospital emergency and trauma centre and running an innovative service called Nurse Practitioner Locum Solutions with two other company directors.
In addition to her NP qualification, Tash completed her PhD at the Queensland University of Technology in 2016 and has developed programs to empower emergency nurse such as nurse initiated analgesia and nurse-initiated pathology ordering which has been rolled out in a major urban emergency and trauma centre.
Created in 2017, Nurse Practitioner Locum Solutions was created by Tash, Dr Grainne Lowe, and Dr Kathleen Tori to fill a need in the community by providing “high quality, patient focused care by nurse practitioners to improve health outcomes for the patient, their family and the community”. The service offers health care by experienced and dedicated nurse practitioners that have backgrounds in emergency and acute care, clinical leadership, research and academic. Their nurse practitioners provide best practice high quality services to fill service gaps wherever they might be needed.
When she’s not working as a nurse practitioner, Tash loves spending time at her rural property in Little River, located south-west of Melbourne, and enjoys living on a farm with her husband, two children, and loads of animals.
Can you share a little about the community you are working in and the nursing you are providing to patients?
I’ve spent over 23 years working at The Alfred hospital and was the first emergency NP in Victoria. I got into the role a little differently, the Department of Health at the time decided that the best way to cope with the long wait times in emergency was to create a hospital demand management strategy - the outcome of this strategy was to develop an alternative model which allowed for the rollout of the NP program to try and fix waiting times.
I started in 2004 as an NP candidate with about 20 other NPs around the state, I was endorsed 2006 which was fairly early on in the piece for nurse practitioners which was an exciting thing to be a part of. While I have been an NP, I had two kids, was mentored by the amazing Professor Glenn Gardner and completed my PhD and continue to work as clinician delivery care at the bedside.
I enjoy working in the emergency department and consider it my grounding place. We work in the fast track area at The Alfred, which means there are a high number of patients, we work collaboratively with the specialist teams including plastics, infectious diseases and ortho, as well as trauma and resuscitation. It is a great place to go to utilise your collaborative skill set, get challenged and be exposed to best practice.
With my business, I am hands-on. When I work as a locum I go to a health service and work from a Friday to a Monday and are the point of call for all patients deteriorating and unable to be managed by the RNs in the health service.
In this role we are on call for all medical services, they have residential aged care, acute wards and an emergency department. The locum position allows me to be autonomous and means I am working at my highest clinical level, as there is no one else to fall back on. Being a locum NP is very empowering as it allows me to work to the top of my scope of practice, empower the RNs at these health services to be their best and promote nurse practitioners in the community.
What is unique about your role in the community?
In the places where I provide locum health services there are known medical shortfalls, and in some rural areas more than 100kms from Melbourne there are no medical staff providing the after hours weekend care for the community. This is where our business has been able to establish and create capacity and strengthen the health service during this time.
As a locum NP, I am able to offer a service that is high quality and best practice, which is amazing. We get the best feedback and are reducing the number of transfers out, saving hospitals money and keeping patients within their support networks of the community. There is a substantial economic benefit and community benefit, and by offering this alternative model, we are able to provide a complete solution.
We are currently working at Seymour, Maryborough and Apollo Bay and are looking to expand into private ED’s to enhance the high-quality health service our patients love.
The feedback is that people don’t have to wait and they are getting the best care for their needs. The NP’s that are working for Nurse Practitioner Locum Solutions are at the top of their game and can use their skill set and experience to the best advantage.
Why did you decide to become a nurse?
I wanted to become an architect but didn't get the score I needed, and after working as a pharmacist assistant after school and finding that I really enjoyed caring for people and assisting with their medical care, I explored the idea of becoming a nurse.
I became a NP after doing my critical care certificate where I found that while I was working in critical care I wasn’t able to complete the entire process of patient care in my scope of practice, I wanted to complete the patient care from start to finish, and this is what motivated me to explore the idea of becoming a nurse practitioner.
What are you hoping to achieve in your current role as an NP?
As a locum NP, I want to build up NP locums to offer our service across all of Victoria. NPs are the alternative when there are gaps in health care, and I am focused on promoting the role of the NP and performing the economic evaluation to roll out the model across the state and eventually across Australia.
I am dedicated to mentoring new NPs, and I love getting behind students as they work towards their journey of endorsement. Australia needs more NPs and one of my goals is to promote the role so we can deliver health care services to a wide community that provides better patient outcomes.
If you weren’t an NP, what would you be doing?
I would love to be a property styler or a real estate agent. I am passionate about interior design and styling and love real estate. Old houses and styling are one of my loves, and I really enjoy this side of things, and in my spare time on the farm, I enjoy renovating or working on something unique in our home.