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Mater Education celebrates 20 years


In 1998, Mater Education was established as a hospital based, independent Registered Training Organisation (the only one of its kind) to provide contemporary workforce training and development of Mater’s own staff and the broader healthcare workforce. Now a leader in healthcare simulation and interprofessional learning, Mater Education celebrates its 20th anniversary.

Mater Education CEO, Donna Bonney, reflects on this special milestone.

Starting her career working as a nurse at 17 years of age, Donna initially felt she may have ‘fell into it’, however she now knows it was her calling all along.

“I loved nursing from day one; it was a perfect fit for me. I’ve always wanted my life to be bigger than just me, I wanted to help people and make a positive difference to others’ lives. Nursing and education are perfect vehicles for that,” Donna said.

After working in a number of different areas of healthcare, Donna found her home in the Emergency Department.

“Once I found emergency care, I knew that’s where I would stay for the rest of my clinical career. During my time, I saw a lot of early career clinicians come through the emergency department as part of their training. Emergency can be a very challenging and chaotic environment and I recognised that many needed support. I really enjoyed taking on that role of support person,” Donna said.

That recognition and passion for mentoring lead Donna to her next career path as she accepted a full-time role and joined the team at Mater Education.

“When I first started, Mater Education had a team of about 12. There were isolated areas of education taking place across Mater the hospitals, and overtime we have worked to standardise each of our programs.”

Donna acknowledges there have been a number of changes in the healthcare education industry over the past two decades, including the way programs are delivered, a shift to focus on evidence based practice and creating a healthy culture in the workplace.

“When I first started out as an educator the focus was more about how good your clinical and specialisation knowledge and skills were. Today, there is less of an ‘all knowing educator’ model and more of a motivation to teach in a way that is engaging, experimental and encourages learning.

“Healthcare education is now quite rightly focused on evidence-based practice as opposed to historical or habitual practice. One of the outcomes we have seen is the benefit of collaboration between teams. By adapting a learning ‘from, with and about’ each other approach, we have seen improvements in patient outcomes. "One of the amazing approaches at Mater is simulation. This collaboration has increased the use of simulation and debriefing because it is such a perfect methodology for layering learning across all levels and disciplines.

“The other great advance is realising the importance of creating a healthy work culture. Through published evidence we know that teamwork, leadership, communication and creating a happy, safe work environment are inextricably linked to patient outcomes,” Donna said.

20 years on from the small beginnings of Mater Education, Donna is excited to see what the future holds.

“There is opportunity to grow, develop and influence a new generation of professionals, not just here in Queensland but across Australia and through partnerships internationally. I would like to see professionals who bring value, high levels of capability and confidence with equal measure of compassion and advocacy for themselves and those in their care.”