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Dan Hanson on the benefits of a remote area nursing mentor

7 Apr 2023

The CRANAplus LINKS Mentoring Program for remote health professionals connects mentors and mentees from around Australia. Free for all parties, the program encourages career development and builds capabilities in clinical leadership, decision-making, networking, and resilience during studies, placements and recently gained employment. A mentee in the program, Dan Hanson, shares how the program has developed his career.

Dan on the left with Aun­ty Estelle Bowen and a Red Earth col­league after three nights camp­ing on the Daar­ba Home­land in the Hope­vale region of Cape York.

Dan Han­son com­plet­ed his nurs­ing degree at La Trobe Uni­ver­si­ty in Vic­to­ria and recent­ly drove up to the Top End for his place­ment at the Roy­al Dar­win Hos­pi­tal. His sights are now set on secur­ing a remote post­ing at the end of this year.

Find­ing CRANAplus and the LINKS Men­tor­ing Pro­gram was exact­ly what I need­ed,” says Dan, to have some­one in the indus­try, some­one able to help me go in the direc­tion I want to go.”

Dan with Tim McGreen (tra­di­tion­al own­er of the Pana­muun­ji Home­land), Tim’s part­ner Elaine and Dan’s Red Earth col­league Victoria.

A rur­al nurs­ing place­ment in Vic­to­ria, although not remote, was the begin­ning for Dan. Look­ing for oppor­tu­ni­ties to get into the bush and to have remote expe­ri­ence, he dis­cov­ered LINKS and was paired with his men­tor, John Wright, Deputy Chair of the CRANAplus Board of Direc­tors, who works at the Ten­nant Creek Hos­pi­tal as the Nurse Edu­ca­tion and Research Coordinator.

John’s expe­ri­ence in remote sit­u­a­tions is well suit­ed to where I want to end up,” says Dan. He has a wealth of knowl­edge to share with some­one like me who is tip-toe­ing around the edges.

I would say the sup­port of a men­tor is pos­si­bly the most impor­tant aspect of men­tor­ing, a guide on the side as opposed to some­one out there instruct­ing you. 

John was real­ly help­ful in dri­ving me. If I had self-doubts about cer­tain things he was always there, avail­able to dis­cuss my concerns.

It’s impor­tant to be sup­port­ed in becom­ing resource­ful, in find­ing things out for your­self, and hav­ing a men­tor to con­firm you are going in the right direction.”

When Dan couldn’t secure a remote place­ment dur­ing his stud­ies, he and John came up with a plan to look for vol­un­teer opportunities.

A night­ly stopover for much need­ed rest near Ten­nant Creek on the way to Darwin.

I got a gig with an organ­i­sa­tion called Red Earth, assist­ing with pro­grams that involve stu­dents from main­ly city schools spend­ing time with Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers on their home­lands,” says Dan.

I’ve done two stints, the first as a vol­un­teer, the sec­ond in a paid posi­tion and those expe­ri­ences solid­i­fied that remote nurs­ing was the area I want­ed to work in in the future.”

Dan stop­ping over for some refresh­ments at Lake­lands en route to meet Tra­di­tion­al Own­ers. Dan says, Just south of this loca­tion we attend­ed a car roll-over on my first immer­sion with Red Earth where an elder­ly woman need­ed to be extract­ed from her flipped-over vehi­cle and had to be mede­vaced out by heli­copter. This sit­u­a­tion was an exam­ple of peo­ple com­ing togeth­er in remote loca­tions to achieve a com­mon goal and help some­one out in need”.

Dan’s men­tor has stressed the impor­tance of hav­ing a very good under­stand­ing of pri­ma­ry health, pub­lic health and pre­ven­tion strate­gies as a foundation.

We also looked at the need to be cul­tur­al­ly safe, to cre­ate a space for oth­ers to feel safe,” says Dan.

That is a very big part of nurs­ing and will mean dif­fer­ent things in dif­fer­ent con­texts, whether it’s an Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ty, a min­ing com­mu­ni­ty or a small town. You need to get to under­stand your clients and be able to adapt to the envi­ron­ment you are in, to under­stand the peo­ple and under­stand what dri­ves them, what makes them feel safe, to have a respect­ful rela­tion­ship with them.”

Being inde­pen­dent and hav­ing to do things on your own is anoth­er aspect of remote work the pair have spo­ken about. 

I would like to think I have good prob­lem-solv­ing skills but I wouldn’t say I am 100 per cent con­fi­dent,” says Dan. 

I am not com­pla­cent. To say you have no wor­ries is not the right way to think. I will always have a long way to go and think that is the right attitude.”

Dan, who pre­vi­ous­ly was in the mil­i­tary, has always leaned towards client-ser­vice roles.

I’m moti­vat­ed to help peo­ple, so I was look­ing for a career help­ing oth­ers. Also mum is a nurse, so there was some influ­ence there as well.”

Now that Dan has achieved his goal to secure his place­ment in Dar­win, he and John both decid­ed to move the goal­posts to con­tin­ue the men­tor­ing process and the goal now is to secure a remote post­ing at the end of this placement.

If you are inter­est­ed in par­tic­i­pat­ing in the LINKS Men­tor­ing Pro­gram as a men­tor or a mentee, you can learn how to get start­ed at LINKS Men­tor­ing Pro­gram.