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Taking nursing education to remote Australia

7 Apr 2023

Nurses are a mainstay of the rural and remote health workforce, so it’s vital to invest in their professional development. That’s the view of Jason Phieler, a long-term facilitator for CRANAplus courses, whose day job is Acute Nurse Unit Manager at Lorne Community Hospital in the Great Ocean Road Health region in Victoria.

Edu­ca­tion for health­care pro­fes­sion­als can be metro-cen­tric and deliv­er­ing [CRANAplus] cours­es in rur­al and remote loca­tions is absolute­ly nec­es­sary,” says Jason. 

Oth­er­wise, rur­al and remote work­ers can miss out on essen­tial pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment to improve their knowl­edge for good patient and com­mu­ni­ty outcomes.

I know what it’s like for them… We don’t always have a doc­tor on hand, and [while wait­ing for retrieval, we can spend hours] assist­ing and treat­ing an emer­gency case. 

That’s [why] these cours­es are so nec­es­sary – pro­vid­ing and help­ing to main­tain the skills need­ed in high-risk situations.”

Nurs­ing as a career entered Jason’s radar when he was in Year 12 and spend­ing a lot of time in hos­pi­tal with his grand­moth­er who had can­cer. He was inspired by the nurs­ing staff.

I like help­ing peo­ple; I also like what nurs­ing offers and the dif­fer­ent fields to enter,” he says.

It was Jason’s first over­seas post­ing that set him on the path of choos­ing to work in the field of rur­al and remote health, in resource- poor communities.

When I first went into nurs­ing 30 years ago, I worked for a time in Nepal in the moun­tains for an NGO,” Jason recalls.

Train­ing sce­nario at work

It was clear that resource-poor envi­ron­ments need the help. I also was drawn to the sense of com­mu­ni­ty in these loca­tions, the inter­ac­tion with peo­ple and being able to meet more inti­mate health services.”

Jason also spent some time on the Cocos (Keel­ing) Islands, a remote ter­ri­to­ry of Aus­tralia in the Indi­an Ocean, 900 kilo­me­tres from Christ­mas Island, com­pris­ing a group of coral islands that form two atolls. Only two of the 27 islands are inhabited.

For the past 20 years, Jason has worked in Lorne, in charge of the hospital’s emer­gency depart­ment, acute care and dial­y­sis units. He is a Rur­al and Iso­lat­ed Prac­tice Reg­is­tered Nurse (RIPRN), hav­ing under­tak­en addi­tion­al train­ing and accred­i­ta­tion to be qual­i­fied to sup­ply and admin­is­ter sched­uled medicines.

His expe­ri­ence in Nepal, of train­ing peo­ple to be pri­ma­ry health­care work­ers and empow­er­ing them through knowl­edge to help their com­mu­ni­ties, was also influ­en­tial in Jason’s choice to be a Nurse Edu­ca­tor, which he has done for the past 20 years.

Trekking in Ladakh

When he saw that CRANAplus was look­ing for facil­i­ta­tors about 10 years ago, the deci­sion was easy.

I can’t pin down one thing that keeps me facil­i­tat­ing,” says Jason. It’s multi-faceted.

Empow­er­ing peo­ple through edu­ca­tion and knowl­edge is impor­tant, and I always enjoy net­work­ing, meet­ing amaz­ing, inspir­ing peo­ple, and always, always learn­ing from the par­tic­i­pants and oth­er facilitators.”

When he’s not in Lorne or facil­i­tat­ing CRANAplus work­shops, Jason is also one of the 700 trained health­care pro­fes­sion­als in AUS­MAT (Aus­tralian Med­ical Assis­tance Team) deployed nation­al­ly and inter­na­tion­al­ly to man­age local emergencies.

My organ­i­sa­tion knows I want to be engaged in my nurs­ing – and that, through these out­side inter­ests, I bring a lot of new knowl­edge back to my work­place,” says Jason.

Fol­low­ing inter­rup­tions to face-to-face cours­es dur­ing the first few years of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, Jason is delight­ed to be back on the road again, with plans to go to Nhu­lun­buy and Dar­win and under­take addi­tion­al ter­tiary stud­ies this year.

CRANAplus work­shops have evolved and improved over the years,” says Jason. 

The focus is skills-based, dynam­ic and par­tic­i­pa­to­ry learn­ing through a series of skills sta­tions, sce­nar­ios and group work.

These pro­fes­sion­als [attend­ing CRANAplus cours­es] are used to being in a clin­ic by them­selves. They deal with pri­ma­ry care issues all day, every day, but that iso­la­tion also means that, in an emer­gency, they may be alone, hav­ing to make crit­i­cal deci­sions in a resource-poor envi­ron­ment. That’s where these cours­es are invaluable.”

To enhance your skills, reg­is­ter for one of our upcom­ing Face-to-face Cours­es or Online Cours­es.