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The clinical education workforce: the understated heroes of healthcare


Blog written by Melanie Barlow; Head of Research, Evaluation and Communications

There is one group of clinicians within healthcare who tend to go under the radar. Their impact is not obvious, but is of the highest of significance; to patients, to our staff, to the organisation. These often unsung heroes are our clinical education workforce.

Our Clinical Educators (Education Coordinators and Clinical Facilitators) silently work behind the scenes ensuring the entire required (and let’s face it, not always exciting, but essential), organisational needs are met such as mandatory education compliance for all staff. They are also there in times of stress and high anxiety, supporting staff to deal with emergency situations. To talk through and debrief the event and to tirelessly train our staff to be at their peak skill levels to effectively treat the patients within the organisation’s care.

I had the pleasure of spending time with one of Mater’s Education Coordinators (Clinical Educator) Mereen Chandy who epitomises the dedication and servant leadership of this education workforce. Mereen’s role in the Mater Mother’s Hospital involves the management of eight Clinical Facilitators and coordination of education across the largest maternity hospital in Australia. Over the course of her 23 years of Midwifery experience, she has held various clinical and educational leadership roles.

Mereen, why did you become an educator?

What do you enjoy about the role?

What does a best day in the job look like?

"My best day is when I am busy and able to achieve my goals for the day. I am motivated by using my experience and know-how to help and support others in their processes to bring value and achieve targets. I enjoy working with the Clinical Facilitators to help strengthen the different qualities within the team."

What are the challenges?
"Sustainable midwifery education models and Interprofessional education are key for our future. Retention of skilled workforce with the ability to meet the comprehensive knowledge does not happen from nowhere. Understanding of the value of ongoing education and provision of quality education is important to meet the clients’ needs. To produce work ready midwives we have to take them under our wings, create psychologically safe education platforms. Demography of the midwifery workforce is changing and this is occurring in both clinical practice and education settings. We are living in a highly volatile health care environment and having different midwifery service models will have significant influence on the ability of tertiary providers to support the education of midwives.

In the constant changing landscape of health organisations, my challenge is to keep my team informed of what I know; to be transparent. I know that they believe in me and I want the best for them and so they can trust me." 

What became clear to me in talking with Mereen is that our Clinical Educators are the ‘connectors’ within the organisation. When initiatives are needed to be rolled out, they connect people together from across the organisation; across disciplines, across seniority levels. They coordinate a multitude of moving parts to help ensure efficient and effective distribution of knowledge and resources for a successful outcome.

As a past Clinical Educator, I know too well the challenges of the job. Due to the nature of the role, you never can truly achieve all your goals or complete that ‘to do’ list. There are always people to teach; activities to develop; people to manage, debrief, coach, recruit, orientate; activities to be evaluated and don’t forget, also be a role model!

So I say to our unsung heroes, thank you. Thank you for your dedication, your resilience and hard work. Other people throughout the organisation are made better because of your presence.

To find out more about our Clinical Educators, or the Continuing Professional Development opportunities that are on offer, get in touch with our team today!

Mater Education will also be holding the Educating the Educator Symposium in November. If you're interested in delivering engaging, innovative and motivational education then this professional development opportunity is for you! Book your place today

About the Author

As Mater Education Head of Research, Evaluation and Communications, Mel Barlow oversees governance of a suite of structured simulation-based education programs. These simulation activities are delivered both within the simulation centre and on-site across Mater’s hospitals.