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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.
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.
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, 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 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.