Denise Donati is a registered nurse, co-owner, and director of Fertility Solutions and Affordable IVF. Each clinic has offices on the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg regions of Queensland, Australia.
Denise has worked in assisted reproduction since 1992. She completed her Bachelor of Applied Science in Nursing in 1991 and in 2005 completed a Master of Nursing writing a thesis on “Determining a Scope of Practice for Nurses working in Assisted Reproductive Technology.” She successfully completed the Bourn Hall Nurses Course in the UK in 2005. In 2009, she successfully completed her Certificate IV in Small Business Management and received a certificate IV in Small Business Management in June 2011. Denise is currently undertaking a Graduate Certificate Professional Management through the Australian Institute of Management.
Denise has been on the Executive Committee of the Fertility Nurses of Australasia and in 2003 joined the inaugural project planning team for the Serono Symposia International Australian Fertility Nurse Education Program. She continues to be an active participant in this, as well as other Fertility Nurse Education Programs.
Between June 2007 and December 2008 Denise worked with Schering Plough on the development of an IVF Nurse Initiative Program. This entailed several visits to Vietnam where she observed the practices of IVF nurses and subsequently made recommendations on possible ways forward – many of which have been adopted.
Denise has presented extensively in Australia, at the British Fertility Society in the UK, and in South East Asia on topics including:
- “The Role of the Australian Fertility Nurse Specialist”
- “How Fertility Nurses can Extend their Scope of Practice”
- “Do Biological Clocks Have Snooze Buttons?”
- “Lifestyle and Fertility”
- “Controlled Ovarian Stimulation and IUI”
- “IVF Basics a nursing perspective”
- “Basic Embryology”
- “Managing Patient Expectations”
Fertility Solutions Sunshine Coast (FSSC) began operations on 2nd April 2007. It was originally staffed by a full time receptionist/accounts manager, a full time program/nurse manager, a part time IVF nurse coordinator, a part time laboratory manager, and a part time scientist. The business also had a Medical Director and an external Scientific Director.
Today, the business has expanded to include a full service location in Bundaberg and together, the two clinics employ 20 people.
Both clinics work under the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) Code of Practice and other regulations/guidelines that regulate fertility services and practices including National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and related local and national regulations and legislations.
In November 2012, Denise launched Affordable IVF on the Sunshine Coast in Qld, a low cost fertility treatment centre with streamlined services that allow couples to pursue their dream of beginning a family, at about one-third the price of full service clinics. Sixteen months later in March 2014, the Affordable IVF service commenced operation in Bundaberg. Plans are in order to offer an Affordable IVF service in Rockhampton by early 2015.
As an advanced practitioner, Denise’s extended role includes the performance of IUI’s, ultra sound scanning, and embryo transfers. She is currently working on developing educational and training opportunities for those working in the field of infertility.
How did you get started? What sparked this business idea?
I started my fertility career as a nurse/midwife working for a private obstetrician/gynaecologist in Launceston, Tasmania who had a fertility arm to his business that entailed donor insemination, ovulation induction, and intra uterine insemination. I took an immediate interest in this fascinating field and before I knew it the doctor had passed total control of this aspect of his practice over to me and I never looked back.
How did you get your first customer?
Given that I had worked for nearly 10 years at a local IVF clinic on the Sunshine Coast, I had established a considerable rapport with many patients. Some of these (around 30) left their clinic to follow me when I set up Fertility Solutions Sunshine Coast.
How are you marketing your business? What strategy works best?
We have tried everything from newspaper, radio, buses (we believe we were the first IVF clinic in Qld – if not Australia – to use this mode of marketing), billboards, websites and social media, and liaison officers.
I track each one of these methods to assess what works and what does not. The buses were a really novel idea for advertising and because it was something that people had not seen happen before it created a lot of interest – especially when we advertised for local sperm donors 🙂
It’s important to constantly monitor your marketing and make changes as necessary. What captures people’s attention today may not tomorrow, so it’s vital that you keep in touch with your customer base.
We’ve launched a few other websites which help us, such as LowCostIVF.com.au and IVFSunshineCoast.com.au.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My passion to make a difference in the experience patients receive when they attend one of our clinics. I don’t see patients as a number, but rather take pride in having established clinics that are not your typical fertility treatment centre. We’ve created a relaxed, cosy, home-like environment where you’ll feel completely comfortable the minute you walk through the door. Being a boutique-sized clinic allows our staff to be dedicated to your fertility treatment and for you not to be treated like just another number.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
There are two great parts of being in business. The first is being privileged to be invited by our patients to share in some of the most personal and private aspects of their lives and being able to make a difference – irrespective of whether they achieve their desired outcome or not. Secondly, building up 3 businesses that today provide immediate employment for 20 people between our Buderim and Bundaberg clinics.
Tell us about one of your hobbies when you’re not working.
Not working – what is that when you have 3 businesses and planning on further extensions?! Seriously, I enjoy entertaining family and friends; spending time at my beautiful home with my 2 wonderful children Nick and Karla, and when I get the opportunity indulge in local and overseas travel.