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Facilitator spotlight: Sharon Gibbens
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.
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.
“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.”
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.”