RN, NP, CMHN, BHlthSc, BCounselling, GradCert(PTT), MCounselling, MN(NP), HScD, FACMHN
Rachel began her nursing career as a generalist at Sydney Adventist Hospital in 1971 before working in primary health care in Madagascar and the Solomon Islands. Upon returning to Australia, she has gained extensive experience working in clinical, teaching and research settings in public health, general practice and mental health settings in urban and rural areas of NSW. Advanced practice roles in rheumatology, immunology, primary health care, psychotherapy and community mental health provide the foundation for her work as an educator and researcher. As Associate Professor of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner), Rachel's academic focus is on preparing postgraduate students to step up to advanced practice roles with well-developed problem clinical reasoning skills and the clinical capabilities essential to function safely in a rapidly changing healthcare environment.
Rachel's teaching experience includes clinical education, working with chronic disease support groups and community groups and tertiary level teaching:
* five years as a senior lecturer at the University of Newcastle included a focus on the development and implementation of the curriculum for a Master of Mental Health Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) program, revision of the Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) program and leading these programs through the accreditation process required by Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council for graduates to be eligible for endorsement to practice as Nurse Practitioners
* convening and teaching into courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, across a range of subject areas, using online, face-to-face, and flexible modes of delivery in Australia and the United Arab Emirates;
* curriculum design and subject development for post-graduate courses;
* reviewing, revising, rejuvenating, and developing curricula in consultation and collaboration with key stakeholders to meet the requirements of the university and Australian accrediting authorities;
* mentoring and supporting the professional development of academic and clinical colleagues, locally, nationally, and internationally.
Rachel's initial research experience grew from her clinical work as a DBT therapist and focused on improving services provided to people with borderline personality disorder. This has included funded projects to challenge stigma, create a culture of care amongst health care professionals and build workforce capacity to deliver evidence-based interventions for this vulnerable population. Research collaborations, qualitative research projects and publications continue to include this area of research.
Rachel's broad range of clinical and research experiences has also enabled her to work with academic and clinician colleagues in two provinces in Thailand (supervising two PhD students to completion) and in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rachel is a founding member of the Health Promotion Research Group in the Faculty of Science, at the University of Sharjah, UAE. She is also principal investigator for a UAE based project assessing Mental Health Literacy in undergraduate health professional students at entry level and co-investigator for an Al-Jaleela funded project assessing Mental Health Literacy in the current nursing and medical workforce in the UAE. The findings from these projects will form the basis for future workforce development projects to build a culture of safety and care for people with mental illness.
Rachel's research includes:
* capacity building activities focused on qualitative research in cross-cultural settings
* mindfulness-based interventions (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction – MBSR and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy - DBT)
* translational research supporting the implementation of evidence-based interventions in health care
* developing nursing capacity for advanced practice, Nurse Practitioner education and clinical practice development
* mental health literacy and mental health workforce development and
* evaluating the effectiveness of on-line post-graduate academic education.
The underpinning emphasis in these research activities is enabling practicing clinicians to further develop their clinical reasoning skills and reflective practice and to strengthen their capacity for therapeutic communication (core components of ensuring a culture of care and safety).
From 1989 - 2002 Rachel worked closely with the Lions Club in the Hunter Region of NSW to develop the Scleroderma/Lupus Resource Centre. This service was funded to meet the needs of people diagnosed with then little known chronic autoimmune conditions including systemic sclerosis (Scleroderma) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Over time, this position developed into an advanced practice role supporting both the person living with the chronic illness and their families to negotiate the complex physical and psychological challenges associated with these conditions. This role included clinical education sessions for UG medical and nursing students and health professionals in both inpatient and community settings. Now known as the Autoimmune Research and Resource Centre (ARRC) this service continues to offer a broad range of support services and is actively involved in a number of research projects. Rachel has maintained a connection with this service as a guest speaker, occasional consultant and a researcher.
Rachel has over 20 years' experience working as a nurse/therapist, 13 of these years working primarily with people with chronic autoimmune diseases and co-morbid mental health problems. She has 10 years clinical experience as a DBT therapist (a mindfulness based cognitive behavioural therapy) at the Centre for Psychotherapy in Newcastle and in rural areas and continues to provide clinical supervision to mental health clinicians working in public mental health services and GP practices in rural NSW.