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Welcome to Dr Nico Clark

“First Step is the solution to the problems indicated by the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System” – Dr Nico Clark, First Step Clinical Director.

We are thrilled to welcome Dr Nico Clark to First Step, as our inaugural Clinical Director.

Dr Clark has worked in the field of addiction medicine for over 25 years, including 10 years with the World Health Organisation in the Substance Use Team and as Medical Director of the North Richmond Medically Supervised Injecting Room (MSIR). He is currently also Head of Addiction Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

'I've been a fan of the work of First Step for many years, and in recent times, First Step has stood out as the health service most similar in philosophy to the integrated care service model we were seeking to deliver at MSIR. I have long been convinced that integrated care is what works best for the majority of people experiencing co-occurring needs including drug use.'

Dr Clark didn’t set out to work in addiction medicine, in fact, at the time it wasn’t even a field of medicine. Unsure of what he wanted to do after finishing his medical degree, he decided to study public health and epidemiology and then joined Turning Point to combine clinical work with clinical research and development of evidence based clinical guidelines.

‘I didn’t think I would stay in addiction medicine, but found it a really engaging form of healthcare, much more than many other aspects of medicine where people are treated as a machine that has broken down and you look at the parameters of the bit that is broken. That approach discourages you from thinking of the whole person, but rather of the disease that the person has brought in for you to look at. With addiction work, it doesn’t make sense if you don’t look at the whole person.’

At First Step, Dr Clark will:

- Lead our clinical governance, ensuring that everybody stays safe, and our clients get the best care possible.
- Provide leadership in the Advisory Group for the Impact Evaluation collaboration with Turning Point, and then lead the implementation of the findings.
- See clients, undertake case conferences, provide secondary consultation and conversations as part of our collective systems of clinical governance.
- Work with the Board and Leadership Team to advocate for First Step’s long-term role within the broader health system in Victoria.

‘At MSIR, my role was to build an integrated care service. At the hospital, my role is to take a rigid system that doesn’t want to be integrated and push it into place. Here, at First Step, it’s already happening. This type of integrated care is the future, and I want to be part of that.’

Dr Clark's role at First Step is funded for 3 years with the foresight and exceptional generosity of The Marian & E.H. Flack Trust.

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