What is your Current Role?
My current role is as a Nursing Lecturer/Educator/Clinical Facilitator.
How did you get to where you are today? What made you choose the job specifically?
I have worked as a RN for over 25 years, in many varied and unique settings (some great, some not so great), and after a few, really really high tempo years in demanding jobs, as an Onsite Occupational Health Nurse for Manufacturing and Construction Sites, I decided something had to give, as ultimately the massive workloads, huge responsibility (caring for up to 1000 workers onsite at times), and long and irregular work hours, my mind and body started to crumble from the stress, not to mention the impact it was having on my family.
I chose to go into Nurse Education purely by chance! I had taken my eldest son along to a Careers expo, to try and give him some ideas/inspiration about his future, and Tafe SA happened to have a stand there, and the head of Nursing was there. She asked me, had I considered Lecturing. I honestly hadn’t thought about it prior, but on reflection, I thought it was a pretty nifty idea. I had many years experience, and had seen pretty much everything you could expect (or not expect!) to see.
I had a story or could relate an experience back to most things relevant to Nurses, and most importantly was completely un-shockable! Haha particularly after working in some remote Communities in Central QLD.
So, I forwarded on my CV to the Head of Nursing, and received a phone call the next day, to start soon afterwards!
I am also pleased to say that my Son, was also totally interested in what Tafe SA (and the Careers expo in general!), had to offer, by eating all the lollies at the various stands, and in fact, I had walked away from a Careers expo at 39, with a new direction , and my Son still had no ideas about what he wanted to do! (and was perhaps was even more confused)…Haha The irony! 😆
What are you passionate about in the work you do?
I absolutely LOVE teaching. I love guiding the new generation of Nurses along the steep slope, and helping them to develop skills and qualities to become great health Carers. I think it definitely helps that I have worked in so many areas, have heaps of funny, and many sad, stories, that I can share with them, to help them relate ‘Theory to Practice’.
It also helps that I am the youngest Lecturer within the organisation, so still have heaps of enthusiasm, and can connect to them in a way that they may find difficult with other lecturers.. (have definitely observed this, where they are too scared to talk with lecturers if having concerns/issues).
I am particularly passionate in showing them how to communicate effectively..an area which is so so important with Nursing, and very often overlooked.
Its the key to providing excellent health care and ultimately better outcomes for not only those under our care, but our fellow team members!
So many Health Carers I observe at the many facilities I attend, have no ability to communicate with their patients. They display characteristic’s of apathy and have lost sight of what we, as Nurses do, which is care!
I see many that do it ‘because its a job’. Unfortunately, our patients sense it, hence why I really focus on the new Gen of Nurses, knowing how to talk to people, and actually hearing and validating what those under our care, are saying.
Sadly, technology eg Smart Phones, have made people lose the ability to communicate in a face to face context.
I have many students, where I spend hours just teaching them, ‘how to talk’ to a patient. They say it ‘feels weird’ to talk about the weather or someone’s family situation or if they have had their bowels open.. I explain that’s how we get to know our Pt’s the best…and establish a rapport, and its actually really refreshing to take the time to listen. They come around eventually haha!
Tell us about some positive changes in the health space that you have witnessed in your career?
Throughout the years of my practice, I have noticed many changes, as such is the Profession, in that is continually changing and improving processes, largely due to research.
One of perhaps the most obvious positive changes, is how the role of the interdisciplinary health care team is now involved with wholistic patient care, rather than when I first started Nursing, it generally consisted of Dr’s/Nurses and perhaps a Physio.
Now we have the ability to involve numerous health professionals, all with different and varied skills and knowledge to add.
Also, team nursing seems to be evolving as the chosen method within Clinical settings, whereby a team of Nurses are allocated a patient load, and are all responsible for the patients in their allocation, as a team, rather than it used to be, ‘no that’s not my patient, I’m not taking them to the toilet’ (as a broad example). Previously, One RN or EN would be allocated a patient load, and at times this was problematic and resulted in inadequate pt. care/overworked staff missing out on breaks etc..
And what about Negative Changes?
Unfortunately I have noticed a number of negative changes ranging from Nurses/Dr’s being stretched and stressed to the max,(due to increased pt. loads and more complicated Chronic health diseases etc.), whereby they are unable to spend adequate time with their pt.’s (to reassure or explain certain things), which obviously results in a lot of uncertainty amongst our patients and even at times them doubting the care they are receiving.
Also, following the introduction of many robots into clinical practice, the margin for error/malfunction has increased (particularly SA).
With the introduction of EPAS, there have been incidents where Dr’s notes/entries have been entered and subsequently not saved etc., and if Coronial inquests eventuate, due to unexpected deaths, it can leave health professionals more susceptible to litigation.
There are also issues with system shutdowns from software, and because notes are stored electronically, rather than the traditional ‘Drop file’, it can lead to the inability to access vital pt. information, esp. during Emergencies. These are just a few of the negatives I have noticed…😐
What keeps me up at night?
The answer to this question varies, and has over my years of practice. It has depended on which setting I am working in.
It has ranged for me, from mammoth work loads, and the fear of forgetting to dot a critical ‘I’ or cross a ‘T’, to Patients’ with Complex needs and Personal circumstances, and my worry of the lack of access or support they may have (particularly when working regional SA, in a small town with very little access to allied health eg Psych support).
In my current position, what keeps me up at night is marking, lesson prep, student support haha to name a few things!
Essentially the Nurse Educator life is 2 roles in one! Teacher and Nurse, and therefore super busy but very rewarding when you get to see awesome nurses evolve 😊
There has been many over the years, and obviously once again it varies depending on the setting… It has ranged from a Paediatric patient successfully back to wellness, and his 3 year old mischief, after extensive treatment for CA, to when I have worked in Occ Health sites, having workers feel they can open up to me, and trust me to help them with whatever issues they may be having (be it work related or non work related)…….
I take the Advocate role of Nursing super seriously (sometimes too seriously hahha which reverts back to your previous question, as yes, have had many sleepless nights worrying about people I care for)…
Most recently though, it would be when students tell me how much the unit I have taught them, they have enjoyed, or ‘yours is my favourite class’, or ‘I learn the most from your classes’.. Also helping them complete their final 6 week Acute placement before Graduating. The difference in their confidence in week 1, to the end of week 6! Wow 😊.. I always try to keep the learning fun and interesting, and I think that is the difference between a student retaining the Knowledge, or ‘switching off’.
I guess its feedback for me, and the sense that I must be doing something right, somewhere along the line..
Anything to share?
I guess what I take away from the many years experience and situations, is that it has helped me to form a level of resilience I could never have imagined, helped me to be wary of particular situations.. (not so much from Pt’s, they are a piece of cake compared to some Employers/Companies!)
Also, that I’m completely unshockable..hahaha you name it, I have seen it in a Clinical Setting!
More recently, it has made me more aware of the illness and unhealthy coping mechanisms that can develop, for the ‘Carer’, if you are in a caring role, and how you need to look after yourself first (or you become the patient!)
It took me till the mid to end of last year to start tackling some of the problems, and replacing them with more positive and beneficial options..eg Anxiety. Yes I still need medication, but combined with my fairly structured yoga practice and complete diet change, I have noticed dramatic results and changes in the way I think and move and process information etc.
Its still a works in progress, but definitely a good motivation, and helps to be able to work through difficult times both at work and home, when you have strategies that are more positive rather than say, drinking alcohol or other self destructive behaviours…