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Palpable respect and pride
Libby Bowell, Director of Education for CRANAplus, says that the recent Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander (ATSI) health worker course in Cairns “pretty much confirms that my goal for the last few years is right – that ATSI health workers should be facilitating ATSI health worker courses.” Here she explains why.
I have been doing this job for several years now.
I believe I have a pretty good relationship with health workers and feel very comfortable in ensuring my teaching methods are appropriate and flexible for the audience. But there is no denying the change in the participants’ connection when a fellow ATSI colleague gets up and presents a lecture or skill station. The ATSI health worker course in Cairns, which was attached to the CRANAplus Conference, was the perfect platform to introduce our ATSI facilitators, Rachael Walker and Lenny Cooper. Alongside myself and Sue Orsmond, Rachael and Lenny facilitated the REC course for seven Queensland health workers. Rachael is an ATSIHP with eight years’ experience as a paramedic with St Johns Ambulance in the Northern Territory. Lenny is working towards completing his ATSIHW training and, at the time of this artcile, was the CRANAplus Aboriginal Liaison Officer, with an extensive background in teaching prior to that. The group was small and intimate and no one had heard of CRANAplus prior to finding the flyer or being told about the course by their employer.
Right from the start the group were keen to talk about their reasons for attending the course… they wanted more information and confidence to assist in managing emergency presentations. Both Sue and I sat in the room to support Rachael and Lenny. Right from the outset, they were engaged with the group. At the same time, we observed the reactions of the participants: an immediate noticeable and palpable respect and pride shown to the facilitators. During a break, I asked one of participants “what was the difference between Sue and myself and then Rachael and Lenny?”… “you mob are good but Lenny and Rachael can make us feel more comfortable because they are like us,” …another said “it’s not so scary with them here.”
Although a little nervous at the beginning, both Sue and I observed the confidence of Rachael and Lenny growing over the 3 days. Both Lenny and Rachael said the experience was positive and it was very evident they enjoyed their first course, had a sense of pride in what they were doing, and are both very keen to be part of the facilitator team. Rachael said that she is keen to assist with the further development of the course. Another potential facilitator was identified from the course participants and she has already expressed interest. Both Lenny and Rachael emphasised that the course provides an appropriate level of training for ATSI health workers and Lenny said the style in which we teach is the right way. Feedback form course evaluations indicates that we are pitching this course at the right level and the content is transferable across borders. All participants told us that they would recommend this course for their colleagues and thought it was a good idea to schedule another course in Cairns next year.
“It would be good if this course continues. This was a great course; slideshows were very helpful to see pictures. Well done CRANAplus.”
“I will definitely recommend the REC course to other AHW’s and also suggest our health workers all get a chance to attend and also update every couple of years.”
“I had a great time, learned a lot and met new friends. Will take a lot away from this course and would highly recommend it to other health workers in my workplace.”
“I believe this course has given me the confidence and competency to perform any procedures or duties when assisting RN’s and doctors within the emergency department. It has taken away most of my fears and has prepared me and made me more determined to aim higher. The use of mnemonics is great and keeps you competent when managing an emergency wherever. Assessments were very good as it made me think properly and use my common sense.”
CRANAplus is excited and proud to have embarked on this journey with our new facilitators and is committed to provide the appropriate support and training to ensure that we continue to grow our number of facilitators. Our commitment to this goal will see the facilitators being supported by our longterm REC facilitators to ensure we continue to help build their knowledge and their confidence. We will continue to listen to feedback and explore other opportunities for health worker education.