Accessible nursing education for remote students

At the launch (L-R) Jennifer Farrell SGS, Selma Alliex, Maryanne Martin and Sally Clark

At the launch (L-R) Jennifer Farrell SGS, Selma Alliex, Maryanne Martin and Sally Clark

A new e-learning hospital, designed specially for nursing students living in remote communities of Western Australia, will help to boost the number of Aboriginal graduate nurses and improve health outcomes for their communities, says Good Samaritan Sister, Jennifer Farrell.

The Maryanne Martin e-Learning Hospital was developed by the University of Notre Dame’s School of Nursing and Midwifery (Broome Campus) in collaboration with eLearn Australia, an independent e-learning provider.

Jennifer, a Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery, and Co-ordinator of the Diploma of Nursing program, has been a key member of this innovative project. She described the e-learning hospital as an exciting development for students and staff of the Broome Campus.

“It was established to meet the needs of the students in the Kimberley and to help students to be able to stay in their communities and not have to move to Broome to attend the course,” she said.

The Maryanne Martin e-Learning Hospital provides students with an authentic virtual hospital environment. Using an interactive internet-based toolbox, students are led through patient case studies that help them to understand the theory behind the practice they are learning, explained Jennifer.

“In Australia we have smaller toolboxes that have been created, but at this point, this is the largest toolbox of its kind,” she said.

Students also travel to the Broome Campus for clinical skills sessions and assessment during a ‘block week’ each semester – a period where students can apply their knowledge of nursing theory in a practical environment.

Being an authentic e-learning program, students can access the Maryanne Martin Hospital 24-hours a day, allowing those who may be juggling additional study and family commitments to work at their own pace. Significantly, in a region where broadband internet access is very sketchy or non-existent, a ‘dial-up’ internet connection is all that is required.

Jennifer said the hospital provides students with a comprehensive nurse-training experience, complete with evidence-based practice, online resources and links, workbooks, dynamic interaction and assessments. This is in addition to receiving first-hand knowledge using a web- based classroom two mornings a week provided by academics on the Broome Campus.

Assistant Dean of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, Sally Clark, said the e-learning hospital will provide an alternative pathway for Aboriginal health workers to enhance their skills and knowledge.

Named in honour of the first Aboriginal registered nurse and midwife in the Kimberley region, the Maryanne Martin e-Learning Hospital was officially launched on May 13. Jennifer said it was a past group of Diploma of Nursing students who suggested that the hospital be named after Maryanne.

“Maryanne is an extraordinary woman” who “has made a significant contribution to Aboriginal health care in the Kimberley”, said Jennifer.

But Maryanne will not only be lending her name to the project. She has been appointed Director of Nursing for the hospital, and in that capacity, will also offer cultural sessions with the nursing students.

For Jennifer, the launch of the e-learning hospital was a significant milestone and an opportunity to acknowledge all those involved in its development. A strong advocate of providing accessible education and healthcare opportunities for all people living in remote communities, she is especially mindful of people in Aboriginal communities.

“I’ve always had a deep passion for working with Indigenous people and I suppose that’s where I see myself working in Broome, is working with Indigenous people to bring about a change for them, or helping them to create a change for themselves… that’s where I feel my heart is,” she said.

“If we had more Aboriginal nurses, we would hopefully be closing the gap for health for Aboriginal people.”

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The Good Oil, June 18, 2013. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

11 Responses to “Accessible nursing education for remote students”

  1. catherine norman says:

    Jenny what a great way to provide skills for nurses in remote areas and a way to increase access to learning for those who might not otherwise be able to particpate.

  2. Anne Dixon says:

    Fantastic article Jen, and fantastic achievements! Well done to you and your team. You are doing amazing stuff…. See you very SOOON eh!! Love Annie D

  3. Julie says:

    Well done Jen! you have achieved great things along with your colleagues. it’s amazing when our ‘heart’ is in something, we are able to give it our best. Regards, Julie

  4. To Jennifer, Selma, Maryanne and Sally congratulations on bringing this project to fruition. What a milestone in healthcare for our Aboriginal People! May the good work bear fruit in abundance. Marie

  5. Marisa SAlem says:

    Congratulations Jen on a wonderful program amongst your numberous achievements. You are AWESOME!Marisa

  6. Rose Ingram says:

    Congratulations Jenny…well done!

  7. Catherine Birkett says:

    Good on you Jenny,
    What a wonderful initiative!

  8. Nicki Bright says:

    Congrats Jen what a great achievement !! So proud of the work you all do up in Broome.

  9. Julie Andriessen says:

    Congrats Jennifer. I’m so glad the remote area indigenous nurses are getting something that will be accessible and useful to them . It will not only enhance the health of the people within the region but also the health workers knowledge and interest. All the best Julie

  10. Joan Wharton says:

    Hi Jen, what a delight to read what is happening and Aboriginal Health Education in Broome and further afield. Having spent some time in the Kimberly and Broome I send my congratulations to you and your team for addressing the needs of Aboriginal people in an innovative way. Regards

  11. michelle reid says:

    what a trail blazer! well done Jen, this is outstanding work that no many could achieve and you and your workmates have done it with extraordinary results that will have long term impact on health and the health workers especially the indigenous health workers into the future. congratulations to all concerned, regards Michelle

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