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Facilitator spotlight: Sharon Gibbens

9 Dec 2022

RN and RM Sharon Gibbens decided to facilitate courses for CRANAplus because of her passion for two-way learning and her recognition of the advanced skills required in pre-retrieval.

I nev­er thought I would be a nurse and grow­ing up I always said I want­ed to be a mis­sion­ary or an air host­ess,” says Sharon. 

How­ev­er, at the age of 44, I became a flight nurse, and now I am doing all three things.” When she con­sid­ers her career choic­es with­in nurs­ing since she start­ed her train­ing back in 1979, Sharon realis­es these have giv­en her the con­fi­dence and expe­ri­ence to join CRANAplus as a facilitator. 

In 2005, Sharon saw an advert for a flight nurse in Port Augus­ta. She was a reg­is­tered nurse, a mid­wife and had recent­ly com­plet­ed a Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Crit­i­cal Care. She had expe­ri­ence in hos­pi­tal emer­gency depart­ments, inten­sive care units, and the­atre recov­ery work. Her love of teach­ing and learn­ing had also seen her notch up a Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Edu­ca­tion and a Cer­tifi­cate 4 in Train­ing and Assess­ment. Sharon has been teach­ing First Aid, CPR, and ana­phy­lax­is man­age­ment for Bal­larat First Aid Train­ing Group for the past five years. 

Last year Sharon added a Grad­u­ate Cer­tifi­cate in Aeromed­ical Retrieval to her list of skills. She has recent­ly returned to work in Alice Springs where she works as Flight Nurse for the Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Ser­vice (RFDS) and, in Jan­u­ary, joined the facil­i­ta­tor team at CRANAplus. 

Sharon board­ing a RFDS plane, 2012.

By midyear, she had facil­i­tat­ed three Remote Emer­gency Cours­es (REC) and two Mater­ni­ty Emer­gency Cours­es (MEC) then added a Pae­di­atric Emer­gency Course (PEC) and Advanced Life Sup­port (ALS) to the list. If you look at my resume, you’ll see I’ve moved around quite a bit and had many var­i­ous jobs, but always in nurs­ing,” says Sharon.

Hav­ing dif­fer­ent jobs and bal­anc­ing prac­ti­cal nurs­ing with teach­ing and train­ing, means I can stay fresh and enthu­si­as­tic. And that’s what I hope I bring to my role as a facil­i­ta­tor with CRANAplus. 

When I walk into a new group of peo­ple, I know we are all there for the same pur­pose. I love teach­ing, giv­ing peo­ple the con­fi­dence to do what they do… As train­ers, we have got to stand along­side peo­ple. Say what can I do to help you?’ 

I par­tic­u­lar­ly love assist­ing at the trau­ma skills sta­tions where peo­ple learn lit­tle tricks and tech­niques. It’s a chance to learn and watch and do and share ideas.” Trau­ma sit­u­a­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly with births and young chil­dren, can be very stress­ful for remote area nurs­es, espe­cial­ly if they don’t have a mid­wifery or crit­i­cal care background.

Par­tic­i­pant Tracey and Sharon plac­ing a naso­gas­tric tube in the manikin at a recent PEC course.

It’s in the emer­gency pre­sen­ta­tions that they real­ly appre­ci­ate the knowl­edge and oppor­tu­ni­ty to prac­tise skills in the CRANAplus work­shops,” Sharon says. 

As a flight nurse, work­ing along­side remote area nurs­es dur­ing retrievals to their clin­ics, I see how awe­some these RANs are. When we are tasked with a job, I have time to pre­pare on the flight for what’s ahead. The RANs often don’t have that luxury. 

In the work­shops, I also have a chance to talk to par­tic­i­pants who want to know about the role of a flight nurse. This can pro­vide them with an appre­ci­a­tion of what we need them to do some­times to pre­pare the patient pri­or to our arrival or what they might need to do once they make that call to retrieval to be ful­ly pre­pared to assist when we arrive at the scene. I also hope it might inspire them to… con­sid­er flight nurs­ing as a career choice.”

Vanes­sa Page, Sharon, Jen­ny Bell, Belin­da Maier and Leonie McLaugh­lin at a Shep­par­ton MEC2022.

On a per­son­al note, Sharon says her faith in God has helped her man­age many of the dif­fi­cul­ties and trau­mas she has faced, turn­ing these into pos­i­tive learn­ing opportunities. 

She has the com­fort of know­ing she is not under­tak­ing this jour­ney alone, along with the con­tin­ued sup­port of many fam­i­ly and friends, both per­son­al­ly and now in the larg­er CRANAplus family. 

Being a CRANAplus facil­i­ta­tor is a priv­i­lege and an oppor­tu­ni­ty for me per­son­al­ly to con­tin­ue to learn and remain updat­ed with best prac­tices sup­port­ed by research, and to be able to share that in a prac­ti­cal way at the work­shops,” she says. 

It’s a learn­ing process for everyone.”

Are you inter­est­ed in becom­ing a vol­un­teer facil­i­ta­tor? We’d love to hear from you on (07) 4047 6400 or via our online enquiry form.