Monday, 2 May 2016

Nursing career: from Careflight to clinical skills educator

It's a long way from the vastness of the Northern Territory, administering emergency treatment in small planes between remote outposts, to teaching medical students in rural Victoria, but for Lane Johnson the opportunity to work with Monash Rural Health in Traralgon was too good to pass up.

Lane Johnson's nursing career has taken her from outback NT to teaching clinical skills to Monash medical students 
The energetic midwife first swapped nursing life in Sydney’s North Shore for her dream job as a Careflight registered nurse in the Northern Territory but now, three years later, she has settled locally and embarked on a role as a clinical skills educator working with Monash medical students undertaking placements in Gippsland.

It’s a challenge she is relishing. As the youngest ever Careflight crew member, Lane gained valuable experience helping doctors to find their feet -  in a simulated laboratory - as they ‘came and went’ from Darwin and Gulf of Carpentaria Careflight bases.

These interactions helped sow the seeds for her new career direction. “I really enjoyed that teaching opportunity so this role seemed too good to be true,” she said.

As a clinical educator Lane teaches medical students a variety of skills including basic life support, cannulation and catheters as well as other practical skills outside of the curriculum, some through the practise of ‘hybrid simulation’ which involves using simulation mannequins and students as patient; all of which she said “helps them to be the best doctors they can be”.

Lane comes to her new role with an impressive pedigree. She won a scholarship to do her Graduate Certiļ¬cate in critical care nursing while working in the emergency department in her home town of Hornsby followed by a scholarship from the Australian College of Nursing to complete her graduate diploma of midwifery while working in Manly, before heading to the NT.

Her years as a Careflight nurse saw her, with a pilot, prepare each day to attend anything from premature births to car accidents in some of the most isolated communities in Australia.

“It was an amazing experience,” she said. “From births in flight to traumas, to meeting the locals and the tourists, getting to know the elders in the indigenous communities and learning so much from them and from those in the rural farming communities.”

Lane has spent the past few months discovering the spoils of rural life for herself, having moved to Trafalgar with her partner who, inspired by his exposure to Lane’s work and study materials, is studying biomedicine.

Though she had never stayed in Victoria until now, the move has been a positive one. “I am enjoying this rural lifestyle so much, I couldn’t be happier,” she said. “This is such an inclusive team, it feels like a family, and the students are so enthusiastic that I am bouncing off their energy.”

Lane said she was impressed with the keenness of local medical students to engage in peer education support by organising events such as the student-led surgical session, supported by local surgeons, which is being planned for May.

It is Lane’s mission to convince as many medical students as possible of the benefits to living, studying and staying rural.

“I really hope these rural placements encourage medical students to consider staying on, or returning, to practise in rural and regional settings; there are so many personal, professional and lifestyle advantages to that choice,” she said.

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