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Dan Hanson on the benefits of a remote area nursing mentor
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 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.”
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.
“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.