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Pleased to have Clinical Nurse Educator and Associate Lecturer Shannon!
Shannon is a Registered Nurse currently living and working on the Mid North Coast, NSW. With an undergraduate and post graduate background in education and a long-term dream of working on aid projects nationally and internationally, Shannon decided to couple her education studies with an undergraduate and masters in nursing.
Shannon is currently working for The Department of Rural Health in the role of Nurse Academic, whilst casually working as a clinical facilitator and with a background in emergency nursing, working clinically as a casual RN for various rural healthcare sites.
Where I grew up
Born in Sydney NSW and settled on The Central Coast NSW for most of her life, this is where Associate Lecturer Ms Shannon Weiley’s career began.
I then moved further North where I have spent the last three years working in rural hospitals. I live with my family on a 120acre hobby farm. This is a hobby as such in itself. We have 8 dogs, 7 horses, 3 cats and always something to keep us busy between shifts. I’d like to say my hobby is horse riding, yet I don’t find I get a lot of me-time and when I do I tend to lack motivation. We do however manage to saddle up occasionally, manage a night away in the rooftop tent, take the paddleboards out on the lake and I did accomplish a season of netball this year before I pulled up injured.
I started my career as a teacher and decided quite early on that I could not manage a classroom of 13 year-olds who had no interest in learning. I then entered the tertiary setting and engaged in adult teaching and learning.
I had a long-time dream of going overseas and engaging in aide work and decided that it was little help to travel the world teaching English to a population that were suffering disease and health-related issues. This revelation, and the exposure to hundreds of nursing students needing help with academic essay writing, I decided I was quite fond of topics such as handwashing and COPD. It was then I decided to tackle a second degree. A Bachelor of Nursing.
Education and Health, surely no better combination!
My education history has seen me study at four universities, two for undergraduate degrees and two for postgraduate. My BNurs was completed at UNISA, where I was an external student, yet made THE most amazing nursing friends. Since graduating I have continued to study. My children highlighted to me that excluding a few gap years when I travelled, I have pretty much studied my whole life from when I entered kindergarten.
Maybe ‘study’ should be coined as my true hobby. I have done post-graduate studies in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL), and completed my Masters in Nursing at the University of Tasmania in a scholarship position. I have majored in critical care nursing and clinical teaching and nursing and am now looking towards thinking about, yes thinking stage only, a PHD.
What is your current role?
Clinical Nurse Educator and Associate Lecturer
I usually have a minimum of three jobs running at a time. I find staying fresh and diverse allows me to bring more to each job. I am on multiple casual pools as a casual clinical Registered Nurse. My background is emergency nursing and as much as I hope to avoid the long tiring shifts without having a chance to eat or pee I do find myself drawn back to ED (just realised that has a catchy little rhyme to it).
I would love to take some rural remote contracts, yet feel unprepared with my heavy metro background so I am also working in some smaller rural hospitals with the aim of transitioning closer to a rural skillset clinically. I am also a nurse academic and work for over four universities in providing clinical facilitation, marking and teaching.
In an attempt to harness the casual drive in me and immerse myself in the rural setting, I have accepted a part-time role with the Department of Rural Health and continue to juggle my casual contracts around this role. Most times if you ask me where I work, you will find I have a different answer.
What are the main types of patients you see in your current position and what is your role in their care?
I am currently working in a small rural hospital where we have no doctor on site. Each shift is staffed by two nurses, one must be an RN. We are a trauma bypass, yet anyone can turn up as a good samaritan with someone they have found in trouble so the challenge comes in being prepared for anything. We need to ensure that we are proficient at comprehensive patient’ assessments in this role. We are the medical officer’s eyes and ears (although we do also have a camera for emergencies).
We take directive from them, yet they are giving directive based on the information we provide. It is good to be confident and competent in IV access and essential that you have good communication and documentation skills. Nine times out of ten however we are working with the general public, performing venepuncture, assessing and dressing wounds, giving tetanus needles, focussing on primary health issues. We provide a community service and alleviate the referral hospital’s ED from triage 4 and 5 presentations while saving the local community an hour commute.
In my non-clinical education roles, I see anything and everything as I travel 100kms and work in a range of settings and environments, I have just returned from an overseas study tour. There is no trend in what I see or what my role is day-to-day.
What is an example of a ‘day in the life’, and tips for others in your field?
I talk. I talk a lot. I present, I visit the wards, I speak to nurses, NUMS, students, students and more students. I see some graduate students of mine who are working clinically, we talk. I teach and assess and attend to a lot of paperwork. A lot of people that see me walking around think my role is easy. It is actually really challenging.
I have to have a plan, yet be very flexible and like being an ED nurse have to reprioritise throughout the day constantly. I never finish work on time and always work over my hours. You need to have good communication skills in all my roles. Model best practice clinically and as a person and retain a passion for what you do so that you can motivate and inspire others.
Advice for nurses to better prepare themselves to get a job in your field?
I believe all educators should have post-graduate qualifications in education. It is good to have diverse experience. It helps to live outside of the box by having a background that has meant you have seen a lot of different areas, sites, and practices and be able to reflect on these and develop your skills through these experiences.
What are the most rewarding parts of your area of work?
Making an impact on people. Every day I am a part of people’s lives. Every interaction has the potential to have an effect on someone. I have hundreds of interactions a day. I have an effect on students, patients and nurses. Sometimes I might simply make someone happy for that moment and other times I may assist them in making a life choice. Knowing I am a part of so many people’s life journey is definitely the most rewarding part of my work.
What are the most difficult parts of your area of work?
Having to keep my energy up. I often have a turnover of students every week so I am continually repeating a similar pattern of lessons and sessions to new faces over and over again. It can be difficult to stay fresh and passionate 52 weeks a year. I am often frequently in a position in the middle of nurses, students and universities. Reminding myself of what hat I am wearing at each stage of the day and what my role and scope are can be challenging. For example often when facilitating I am an RN, yet I am not there as an RN. I am there to watch a student, yet of course, see everything that happens around me.
What different areas of nursing have you worked in?
I started in a critical cardiac care unit, then graduated to ED. When I began teaching I joined the casual pool where I nurse across wards/ units and sites. It’s a great experience and helps understand what other nurses’ roles and environments are like.
What do you carry on you during a shift?
I always have a pocket full of pens with me. I am a huge fan of documentation and often work in hospitals that have not merged to an electronic documentation system, plus as we all know everyone likes to steal a pen or two so having a few spare never hurt. I love my Litmann’s stethoscope and feel they are under-used in nursing and often have a mini bottle of hand sanitizer with me.
How do you destress after a shift and self-care?
I would love to say that I have learned to eat a big healthy salad, take a run and meditate, yet I tend to find myself laying on the lounge with a bag of corn chips and watching movies until I start snoring.
Can you share some night shift tips?
They either work for you or they don’t. I struggled. We worked twelve-hour nights and I wouldn’t sleep well at all. I would double eat and be up for two days before crashing at 4 am on night three. I’m probably not the best one to ask for night shift tips. I do know it is conditioning though. I call it shift work stamina. Once being spoiled in a long education contract, I hardly make it through a PM awake, let alone a night shift.
What would you do if you weren’t a nurse?
There are so many things I would love to be in my lifetime, yet try to let fate and instinct guide me a bit. I always wanted to be a vet and was told I wasn’t ‘good enough’ at science. After years of critical care, I dare say I could have been a vet, yet I am not a fan of the ever-growing HECS debt so no more diversifying now. I also love travel and would love to explore journalism, luckily I can do this as a nurse too.
What’s in your lunch box!
I am a bit spoiled. My beautiful partner packs my lunch box. I think she knows just how bad I am at self-care. I convince myself pre-shift I am not hungry and then within an hour of my shift, I am starving.
Can you think of a really funny situation you’ve had while nursing?
I am pretty naïve at times and have believed some pretty farfetched stories that my ED patients have told me when presenting with some quite personal ailments, only to have other nurse’s laugh at me afterwards.
I often bend over and drop my top pocket contents into a bedpan, and have got locked outside in a garden area once on a PM shift and had to call triage to get someone to come and let me back through the self-locking gate I accidentally exited. My family always gives the eye roll and says I am never funny however, so apologies if my sense of humour fails me in answering this question.
What is one piece of advice for students you would give who are worried about starting a graduate year?
Do not assume that everyone else out there knows more than you just because they have had their registration longer than you. Access primary sources! Policies, evidence-based articles, educators. I look back at who I asked for clinical advice as a new graduate and later realise sometimes the friendliness and most willing to share their ‘knowledge’ were the least knowledgeable and least ‘best’ practising nurses. Stick to being you. If you cut a corner, make sure you made an educated choice to cut the corner, don’t fall into the trap of social conformity within your workplace.