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CRANAplus People Power: Our three new Remote Clinical Educators

2 Dec 2021

Meet Nicole Smith, Michelle Price and Leanne Laurie, three new CRANAplus Remote Clinical Educators who started in the last half of 2021. We discuss their backgrounds, what makes them tick, and the important role they’ll play in developing CRANAplus course delivery and maintaining the highest standards of education.

After a Remote Emer­gency Care Course in Alice Springs.

CRANAplus has hired three new remote clin­i­cal edu­ca­tors to expand its capac­i­ty to ser­vice grow­ing demand for con­tex­tu­alised edu­ca­tion in the remote set­ting, and to increase its flex­i­bil­i­ty and peo­ple pow­er to deliv­er across states and ter­ri­to­ries dur­ing the pan­dem­ic and into the future.

The new starters will be work­ing on updat­ing exist­ing cours­es to match the lat­est clin­i­cal guide­lines and devel­op­ing new learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties based on the needs of the work­force. They’ll be help­ing to coor­di­nate exist­ing and poten­tial­ly new cours­es and to deliv­er them, on the ground as educators.

Nicole Smith, Michelle Price and Leanne Lau­rie were all drawn to the Remote Clin­i­cal Edu­ca­tor role for sim­i­lar rea­sons: they recog­nise the chal­lenges fac­ing health work­ers in rur­al and remote loca­tions, they respect the skills of facil­i­ta­tors, and they val­ue the fact the cours­es are con­tex­tu­alised to remote needs.

All three spoke high­ly of remote health work­ers, point­ing out how cru­cial it is for them to have to have good all-round skills to be able to man­age any sit­u­a­tion that walks in the door, with lim­it­ed med­ical support.

They also felt the face-to-face work­shops were impor­tant for remote health work­ers, pro­vid­ing par­tic­i­pants with net­work­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, and the chance to debrief with oth­er peo­ple in the same position.


Nicole Smith

Nicole hik­ing in Kakadu.

Reg­is­tered Nurse and Mid­wife Nicole Smith from Vic­to­ria has a crit­i­cal care back­ground, but has done a bit of every­thing”, hav­ing worked in Queens­land, the NT, NSW and Vic­to­ria in pri­vate and pub­lic hos­pi­tals in both major towns and region­al areas, as a RAN, and with the Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Service.

I’ve had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to trav­el and work in dif­fer­ent places, see and expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent things, and, for me, I think that expe­ri­ence has made me a bet­ter nurse and a bet­ter person.”

COVID-19 has pro­vid­ed her a sil­ver lin­ing, which is a big state­ment, con­sid­er­ing she’s spent many months in lock­down in Vic­to­ria.

I’ve always want­ed to work for CRANAplus, and I’ve been a facil­i­ta­tor in CRANAplus cours­es in the past,” she says. But I didn’t have the abil­i­ty to be based per­ma­nent­ly in Cairns, Ade­laide or Alice Springs.”

COVID-19 has encour­aged organ­i­sa­tions to explore how they can be more flex­i­ble and this posi­tion I am in now is per­fect. The best of both worlds – remain­ing in Vic­to­ria, work­ing from home on course mate­ri­als and con­duct­ing the online com­po­nent of cours­es and, where pos­si­ble in the future, attend­ing work­shops in oth­er parts of the coun­try.”

This job also allows Nicole to get her fix of remote Aus­tralia, which she loves.

I love the red dirt and the blue skies; the red dirt and the blue seas,” she says, point­ing out that it’s also a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to get away from the bus­tle, to tune out.

In late Octo­ber, Nicole had spent her time in the job so far look­ing specif­i­cal­ly at the triage course and help­ing with hybrid cours­es. She is look­ing for­ward to 2022 when she can increas­ing­ly be involved in face-to-face workshops.

I feel priv­i­leged that I can not only share and pass on my knowl­edge, but gain and improve my knowl­edge from the remark­able work­force that I get to inter­act with.”


Michelle Price

Rita Ball (course coor­di­na­tor), Bri­die Fos­ter (midwife/​facilitator), Glen­da Glee­son (midwife/​facilitator), Michelle Price, and Aman­da Wee (doctor/​facilitator).

Michelle Price, an Endorsed Mid­wife, said it became evi­dent ear­li­er this year, when she under­took a sec­ond­ment in coun­try WA, how hard it was for her co-work­ers to access qual­i­ty education.

It was two hours from Perth, not rur­al or remote but cer­tain­ly coun­try, and it made me realise how lucky those in met­ro­pol­i­tan areas are to have edu­ca­tion at their fingertips.”

It was the role I had been look­ing for,” says Michelle, of the role as a Remote Clin­i­cal Edu­ca­tor for CRANAplus’ Mid­wifery stream.

Hav­ing been an aca­d­e­m­ic pre­vi­ous­ly in my career, and know­ing how ful­fill­ing teach­ing was, I was keen to be involved.

The CRANAplus cours­es give face-to-face edu­ca­tion to those in rur­al and remote areas, our front-line health staff… I think it is some­thing spe­cial that CRANAplus offers – face-to-face con­tact with edu­ca­tors and hands-on skill sta­tions to prac­tise life­sav­ing mater­ni­ty skills.”

On top of her teach­ing back­ground, Michelle has worked in all areas of mid­wifery: in mid­wifery group prac­tice, metro, coun­try and ter­tiary hos­pi­tals, pri­vate and pub­lic, as well as pri­vate prac­tice as an Endorsed Midwife.

Michelle’s role at CRANAplus is Remote Edu­ca­tion Coor­di­na­tor for Mater­ni­ty Emer­gency Care and Mid­wifery Upskilling cours­es.

Her role involves work­ing behind the scenes to organ­ise cours­es, but also pre­sent­ing, facil­i­tat­ing, run­ning skills sta­tions, devel­op­ing pow­er points and pre-learn­ing mod­ules, and con­duct­ing assess­ments on the day.

I learn as much as teach,” says Michelle whose cal­en­dar lead­ing to the end of 2021 has been filled with cours­es in Dar­win, Broome and Adelaide.

I love teach­ing and have men­tored junior staff since I grad­u­at­ed 15 years ago, and I love pass­ing on the skills I have learned, and impart­ing knowl­edge to deal with sticky situations.”

Such sit­u­a­tions are not new for Michelle who entered the world of mid­wifery when she her­self lost a baby.

That expe­ri­ence with a won­der­ful mid­wife made me feel this is what I’d like to do,” she says. It’s such an amaz­ing job and I knew I want­ed to do that sort of thing.”


Leanne Lau­rie

Leanne with a Quokka.

Leanne Lau­rie from WA, a child health nurse, mid­wife and nurse prac­ti­tion­er, has been work­ing rur­al and remote all her nurs­ing life. Her first job in 1982 was at Wyn­d­ham, the most north­ern hos­pi­tal in WA – and that expe­ri­ence set her on her nurs­ing pathway.

Work­ing rur­al and remote you realise the dif­fi­cul­ty of attain­ing edu­ca­tion, being able to attend cours­es,” she says.

That’s the beau­ty of CRANAplus, what sets it apart. The cours­es are tak­en into the rur­al and remote work­place, and they’re specif­i­cal­ly designed for peo­ple work­ing out there deal­ing with lim­it­ed resources, lim­it­ed work­force and lim­it­ed edu­ca­tion opportunities.”

Leanne facil­i­tat­ed a few cours­es this year before tak­ing on the role of remote clin­i­cal educator.

It’s great for edu­ca­tors to get out to these remote areas to be able to talk to the remote health work­ers in their sur­round­ings” says Leanne, who has been busy so far in 2021 in WA, NT and SA and Tasmania.

Ear­ly in the year she facil­i­tat­ed cours­es both in Man­ingri­da and Nhu­lun­buy in Arn­hem Land in the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry, high­light­ing for her the impor­tance of health and edu­ca­tion in remote Indige­nous communities.

It’s a priv­i­lege to go into these com­mu­ni­ties and work with the Abo­rig­i­nal Health Work­ers,” she says. They have a real under­stand­ing of what is need­ed in the com­mu­ni­ties. They are able to advo­cate for their com­mu­ni­ties, and the peo­ple in the com­mu­ni­ties have that trust that things are being done for their benefit.”

With short­ages of health work­ers through­outAus­tralia and the huge pres­sures on exist­ing staff to work extra hours and take on addi­tion­al duties, the role of CRANAplus cours­es is more impor­tant than ever, Leanne believes.

The short­ages are caused by numer­ous fac­tors,” she says. We don’t have the over­seas nurs­es com­ing in, and a lot of the agency nurs­es have, in the past, come from New Zealand and oth­er coun­tries.

Also, vac­ci­na­tion cen­tres and COVID-19 test­ing cen­tres have tak­en many health work­ers out of the work­force. In addi­tion, old­er nurs­es are being advised not to work in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions.

Nurs­ing today in Aus­tralia is challenging.

One ben­e­fit of the face-to-face work­shops run by CRANAplus around the coun­try, is the abil­i­ty for more peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate. When peo­ple have to trav­el long dis­tances, half the time away from work is spent get­ting to the course, and man­agers may be able only to free up one per­son to attend.

With work­shops run in cen­tres close to com­mu­ni­ties, more peo­ple can take advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty,” Leanne says.

Inter­est­ed in work­ing for CRANAplus? Mon­i­tor our Employ­ment Page, which also fea­tures nurs­ing, mid­wifery, man­age­ment and oth­er roles from around the country.