Want to know what it’s like to study at THINK Health Education? One of the best ways to get to know us is by getting to know our teaching faculty. Read on for an interview with Tania Lawther, one of our Nursing academics based in Sydney.
Hi Tania, can you tell us a little bit about your background, your career path, and how you got into teaching?
After completing my undergraduate Registered Nurse qualification in Nelson, New Zealand, I travelled to Sydney to commence my nursing career on the new graduate program at St George Hospital. Here I developed a love of the specialty of cardiothoracic surgery and intensive care nursing. An interest in patient education and completing postgraduate qualifications in health promotion, led me to my first teaching role delivering heart health education to community groups. Subsequent Nurse Educator positions in Surgery, High Dependency and Cardiothoracic Intensive Care allowed me to merge my passion for patient centered care in the acute inpatient setting with the facilitation of learning.
Extension of traditional educational strategies for advancing evidence based practice in the clinical setting opened up with the implementation of the NSW Health, Essentials of Care Program (EOC). Aligned to the principles of emancipatory Practice Development, EOC offered educators the opportunity to facilitate teams to merge collective knowledge and expertise with the purpose of developing clinical practice and increasing effectiveness in patient care.
Looking for a career opportunity to continue facilitating individuals’ development and ownership of nursing practice, using Practice Development strategies in conjunction with traditional adult learning strategies, led me to my current teaching position in the Vocational Education & Training setting, most recently for THINK Health Education.
What do you love the most about your job?
Students come to the Diploma of Nursing with personal aspirations, values and concepts of caring. A highlight of my job is partnering with, supporting and celebrating transformations with students, as they seek to integrate their emerging knowledge, clinical practice skills and professional persona in order to achieve these aspirations.
How does your personal practice feed into your role as an educator?
My ongoing clinical practice in critical care nursing allows me to maintain both my clinical competency and my currency in evolving best practice guidelines. The diversity of the health care setting and rapid rate of advancement and change, requires Nurses to be lifelong learners and reflective practitioners. Maintaining currency in clinical practice allows Nurse Educators to be role models of these skills.
What are the benefits and/or challenges of teaching?
Teaching in the Diploma of Nursing allows me the professional opportunity to advocate for the development of evidence based, person centered care amongst our professions novice practitioners.
The challenge is to provide context and marry theoretical purpose to the application of clinical skills in practice. I look forward to the creative opportunities the simulation lab will offer the educators at THINK Health Education to meet this challenge and promote the development of critical thinking.
What are the best bits about working at THINK Health Education?
The opportunity to work within a diverse team of Nurse Educators that share a passion for the nursing profession and also value the delivery of evidence based curriculum which upholds current best practice principles. We are like minded in our purpose to enable students to grow in their understanding and application to practice of the Nursing Code of Conduct, Code of Ethics and National Practice Standards.
What advice do you have for any prospective nursing students out there?
Nursing is both a challenging and personally rewarding career path with a great diversity of opportunities in the workplace. I would advise prospective students to research what it means in practice to be a Nurse and the types of values and attributes that align with the profession. Prospective students should not be deterred by factors such as their age or life stage but be guided and encouraged by what is at the heart of their desire to care for others and what it is they can offer. If they are prepared to work hard at their study and grow in attributes such as non-judgmental, flexible, open minded, critical thinkers who can work in teams, they will be successful in reaching their goal.