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New course supports health workers experiencing trauma

8 Apr 2024

Following the recent release of two written trauma resources, the CRANAplus Mental Health and Wellbeing team are proud to announce the addition of a third resource, a new online course titled Supporting yourself and others after traumatic events. The course can be accessed via the CRANAplus website. Kristy Hill, Mental Health and Wellbeing Education and Resources Manager shares more about our trauma resource collection and the reasons behind its development.

tota­jla – stock​.adobe​.com

As we all know, work­ing in rur­al and remote health can be incred­i­bly reward­ing work. It can also be a unique­ly chal­leng­ing envi­ron­ment. We can be exposed to many things that can lead to increased vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to trau­ma, such as cul­ture shock, social iso­la­tion, weath­er extremes or trau­mat­ic clin­i­cal events. 

Trau­ma is a person’s emo­tion­al response to a dis­tress­ing expe­ri­ence. They are usu­al­ly expe­ri­ences that pose a sig­nif­i­cant threat to a person’s phys­i­cal or psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing and are often sud­den or unpre­dictable. Trau­mat­ic events are com­mon, with up to 70% of the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion like­ly to expe­ri­ence a trau­mat­ic event in their lifetime.¹

As a rur­al and remote health work­er, it is even more like­ly you will be exposed to a poten­tial­ly trau­mat­ic event. For exam­ple, peo­ple liv­ing in rur­al and remote areas are three times more like­ly to die because of a vehi­cle-relat­ed injury than in the city.²

These trau­mat­ic events can be chal­leng­ing, as the car­ing con­nec­tion that we as health work­ers estab­lish with patients is ampli­fied by pos­si­bly hav­ing long-stand­ing or close con­nec­tions with com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers, such as friends, fam­i­ly mem­bers or colleagues.

That con­nec­tion is often one of the more reward­ing aspects of the job. Still, it is unde­ni­able that you, as a health work­er, will be at the front line dur­ing trau­mat­ic events.

Exam­ples of trau­mat­ic events in rur­al and remote health set­tings can include assault or vio­lence against us as health work­ers; assault or vio­lence to oth­ers or the clin­ic, e.g. lock­down; repeat­ed or unex­pect­ed expo­sure to deceased peo­ple; work­place trau­ma such as vehi­cle inci­dents involv­ing col­leagues or peo­ple you are close to; or hear­ing dis­clo­sure (and know­ing per­pe­tra­tors), e.g. child sex­u­al abuse.

Expe­ri­enc­ing some lev­el of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­tress fol­low­ing expo­sure to trau­mat­ic events such as the ones described above can be con­sid­ered a nor­mal response to abnor­mal events. How­ev­er, not every­one exposed to the same event will be emo­tion­al­ly affect­ed in the same way, and not every­one will have long-last­ing effects.

Why did we devel­op these resources?

Our trau­ma resources were designed in response to a grow­ing recog­ni­tion of the need to bet­ter sup­port remote and rur­al health work­ers through these trau­mat­ic events. 

We reg­u­lar­ly receive calls on the Bush Sup­port Line and through our many con­ver­sa­tions with remote health work­places about people’s expe­ri­ences of trau­ma, we saw a need to pro­vide a diverse range of oppor­tu­ni­ties to sup­port work­ers after a trau­mat­ic event. 

Sad­ly, we reg­u­lar­ly hear health work­ers nor­mal­is­ing these trau­mat­ic expe­ri­ences as a nor­mal part of liv­ing and work­ing in rur­al or remote environments.

This nor­mal­i­sa­tion inval­i­dates the expe­ri­ence, can be an unhealthy cop­ing strat­e­gy and can neg­a­tive­ly impact the heal­ing journey.

So we want­ed to cre­ate resources that enabled work­ers to improve their under­stand­ing of what they were expe­ri­enc­ing and recog­nise strate­gies to bet­ter sup­port them­selves, oth­ers and their work­places through such events. 

Our trau­ma resources include an intro­duc­to­ry tip sheet to under­stand­ing trau­ma and where to go for sup­port, a more detailed book­let that explores how to sup­port your­self and oth­ers fol­low­ing a trau­mat­ic event, and the new inter­ac­tive online course which pro­vides more detail and prac­ti­cal strate­gies. All resources can be accessed at crana​.org​.au/​w​e​l​l​being

What’s involved in the Sup­port­ing your­self and oth­ers after trau­mat­ic events online course?

This inter­ac­tive online course has been designed by men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als with remote expe­ri­ence, specif­i­cal­ly for the rur­al and remote health work­force. It helps work­ers to iden­ti­fy trau­ma and under­stand the com­mon respons­es, con­sid­er­ing their unique pro­fes­sion­al con­text. Fur­ther­more, this course dis­cuss­es ways to sup­port your­self and oth­ers towards heal­ing, how work­places can sup­port their work­ers fol­low­ing a trau­mat­ic event and when to seek pro­fes­sion­al support.

The course details a range of prac­ti­cal strate­gies and real-life scenarios.

We are offer­ing this course for free to Mem­bers until the end of June 2024. From July onward, it can be accessed for a small fee ($10 for Mem­bers, $20 for non-Mem­bers). The course can be accessed at crana​.org​.au/​t​r​a​u​m​a​-​c​ourse CPD hours are avail­able and spec­i­fied on the cer­tifi­cate of completion.

For more infor­ma­tion about the trau­ma resources, con­tact wellbeing@​crana.​org.​au

1. Knip­scheer et al., (2020). Preva­lence of Poten­tial­ly Trau­mat­ic Events, Oth­er Life Events and Sub­se­quent Reac­tions Indica­tive of Post­trau­mat­ic Stress Dis­or­der in the Nether­lands: A Gen­er­al Pop­u­la­tion Study Based on the Trau­ma Screen­ing Ques­tion­naire. Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Envi­ron­men­tal Research and Pub­lic Health. 17(5): 1725.

2. Mason HM, Ran­dall J, Leg­gat PA, Voak­lan­der D, Franklin RC, (2022). Com­par­ing rur­al traf­fic safe­ty in Cana­da and Aus­tralia: a scop­ing review of the lit­er­a­ture. Rur­al and remote health; 22(4): 1 – 12.