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Celebrating a true advocate for healthcare education

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For International Day of Education on 24 January, we couldn’t think of a better person to profile than Stephanie Barwick, our very own Acting Executive Director of Mater Education.

Brought up in Townsville, Steph had a calling for nursing at a young age.

“I never wanted to be anything else but a nurse. I never understood in school how my friends didn’t know what they wanted to do, because I felt as though I’d known my whole life what I wanted to be.”

She did work experience in Year 11 at Mater Private Hospital Townsville and went on to complete a Bachelor of Nursing Science at James Cook University in Townsville. Steph became a graduate nurse at Mater Private Hospital Townsville and over the years, honed her interests in ICU and educating others. 

“I had fantastic experiences with educators at both the university and hospital – so I would try and run education sessions in ICU even before I was an educator. I loved seeing others recognise the value of education and understand how it helped them clinically and with their patients.”

Not being one to sit still, Steph’s career took her around the country, from regional hospitals to major facilities like the Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney. From remote to metro, she recognised the need for education to improve collective competence and healthcare delivery.

Her journey has brought her to Mater Education, where she’s able to make a difference and pursue her goals on a larger scale.

“I love the concept of Mater Education; that education has its place in a healthcare organisation and that Mater values education so much that an entire ministry exits to deliver it. Historically, healthcare education has just been absorbed into the clinical setting, but at Mater, education is seen as an enabler of excellent healthcare delivery– and that the two can’t exist without each other.”

She’s implemented organisational-wide in-situ simulation initiatives, which have been recognised and well-received nation-wide. During her time at Mater Education she has also completed an international Simulation Fellowship with the globally renowned Center for Medical Simulation in Boston.

She is also Deputy Chair of the Women in Simulation special interest group for Simulation Australasia and is passionate about female leadership.

“I’m proud to advocate for strong female leadership and I’m proud that Mater is leading the way with females in executive and leadership positions.”

Extremely qualified, but ever humble, Steph always wants to know “what it’s like to always be a student” and is currently a higher degree research student at Bond University.

“I have learned so much about simulation and healthcare education and how we can truly change people’s lives; not just the ones we teach, but the patients who are cared for by those we teach. It is my goal to make sure every Mater staff member has access to high quality, evidence-based education so that every Mater patient benefits across the state, and to continue advocating for education as a key enabler of excellent healthcare delivery.”