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Last lecture… Surviving & Thriving in the Nursing Academy

Last lecture… lessons learnt in nursing academia

 Surviving and thriving – the things you don’t get to say as often as you should

 For almost ten years I have had the fantastic opportunity to be employed as a nursing lecturer in Australia.

Now, as I prepare to move to a new research position at another university, in another country, I can look back and take some very real and hard won personal satisfaction from the fact that I have been able to play a significant part in contributing to the addition of many hundreds of registered nurses to the health workforce in Australia – and beyond. That is a very cool personal experience – something that has challenged and inspired me everyday of my academic life… the quality of care people receive from the nurses I have helped to educate is linked to the quality of the learning and motivation I was able to inspire in my students… These are the building blocks of the contemporary nursing workforce in Australia… I played a part. I am proud of my contribution, and thrilled to have had the opportunity! I continue to take the responsibility seriously… and my service to the professional progression of contemporary nursing education is evident in my journal and nursing textbook publications – a service to the profession.

Nurse Academics improve the world one student at a time

Each year I have helped to educate a new wave of nurses who in turn each go on to provide excellent quality nursing care to thousands of people around the nation and throughout the world. That is a very good feeling! Lots of people have lots of fantastic personal outcomes underpinned by the work my colleagues and I do together. Together we make a positive impact in the lives of many people, and we act to improve the world a little bit! It’s true… we do! But there are some battle scars that come along the way… it is a thankless, invisible job in many respects… and it is getting tougher as many students increasingly expect to be treated as online customers and the retail-style churn gets murkier year by year.

I leave this post wondering about future of nursing and worried for the well-being of the nursing academy. Fearful of the plummeting decline in the higher education sector in Australia, where funds are too little, and opportunities for scholars are too few. Where the casualization of the nursing academic workforce is the sad and unsustainable state of sordid affair that leaves everybody feeling rather disrespected the morning after.

The analogy was intended… the higher education system and funding provided to it, in Australia in 2016,… is, to not put to fine a point on it… it is… well it is, frankly… F@#$ED! I don’t think this is set to change… the political will for progress does not exist… and the ‘white poor’ will have an increasing sway in politics in the future. This demographic are less likely to value the higher education sector, seeing it as an arrogant sector, pompous, unpractical, ‘pie in the sky’… waste of public funds.

I understand… Ironically… my own background is a mixed ‘black and white poor’ stock… I understand the sense of discontent that many people have about us – from both side of the fence. We have Brexit in Britain… Trump in USA… Hanson and other in Australia… the democratic mood has diminished for the higher education sector generally. It is a shame… and before we point too many fingers… it should be noted it is a shame on us academics as well. We have failed in our duty to effectively communicate the value of what we do; what we contribute, and why it is important to society. We have let the team down corporately. We have failed to engage with the disgruntled and left out majority in the democracy we live and work in … we have failed to translate our knowledge in accessible formats for the general public to be able to digest– and this is the kick back.

Yearn to Learn

I leave my post… hoping that nursing students will yearn to learn more and shop less (that is, be more concerned with nursing and less concerned with the retail transaction in the university ‘mall’). And, that curriculum writers will remember to set aside sufficient time for learners to reflect and think about what they are learning and how they will be able to apply it in practice. To me at least, it seems we have all become too busy, pressed on every side and less scholarly in the rush. The rush is well known… it is the push to put ‘bums on seats’ … that is the bread and butter of the university financial bottom line. The equation is: More students = less substantive staff and quicker throughput… Trimesters. We call it things like adaptive change and we try to work ‘smarter’ but no matter how hard we try – keeping out of the red is a near impossibility for all universities. It is not a great environment for innovative thinking to flourish…

Preparing to leave this role has also caused me to think about what it has been like to be an early career and mid career academic… at lecturer level in a regional university. If I could, what advice I would give my 10 year younger self… starting out in academia and crossing over from clinical practice. Would I do it all again?

 Saying goodbye to a chapter in my academic life is an excellent opportunity to give a Last Lecture that hopefully distils some of my lessons learnt… and maybe sharing them will to assist others to survive a transition from clinical practice to academia… and to go on to thrive. Here are are few tips to share:

Cultural respect

First and foremost, Australia is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural and traditional land. Colonisation has brought with it many challenges to first peoples. I think, nursing academics have a key role to play in the ongoing recovery journey for Indigenous people in Australia. For example, Nurse Academics can choose to role model an unconditional cultural respect that is authentic and genuine. In doing so, others can also learn the importance of integrating respect for country, place, people and culture into our curriculum, and ultimately as graduate attributes for all of our students. We can choose to position ourselves as caring people in a caring profession and lead cultural caring as well. This is critical for the social and emotional health and well-being of all people in the nation – we have a role to play – should be choose to accept the challenge. In particular, a trauma informed care approach to teaching and learning is vital. Therefore – my tip is…. start every class, commence every meeting, begin all collaborations with acknowledging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Country and people… and then follow thorough with making and sustaining a culturally safe approach to every action, every plan and each decision. This is how the gap will close…


Be kind. Just be kind! Nurses are ideally active champions of kindness. In fact – lets go further…. Lets take on a movement of kindness leadership… lets develop expertise in the delivery of kindness… demonstrating professional kindness to all. Practice kindness. Hard – perhaps…yes! Possible… YES!

Nurses and nursing academics can sometimes be unkind to each other… Why do we offer kindness to those we care for professionally (our patients and clients), BUT, we don’t extend the same professional courtesy to each other? What harm could there be in being extra kind to our own?! We could do it! If we put our mind to it… if we wanted too…

How would kindness look in nursing academia? Well, one thing…the unheard would feel heard… there would be good logic, reason and evidence to support our teaching and learning practices and decision making… no one would be left out… everyone could thrive… no one would feel threatened by be success of others… the success of others is in fact a great cause for corporate celebration. And… we would all share a capacity to succeed and excel, personally and colalborately. Tall poppies would flourish – and would not look out of place – because they would have plenty of company from all the other tall poppies around them… and the discipline of nursing would flourish.

Our ideas, teaching and research would be more creative… and the people we care for would benefit too… So…. Be nice I say!! Be kind… let’s care for our own. Academia is a brutal enough place without us making it worse… let’s ‘kill it with kindness’.

Build Networks.

Establishing and maintaining professional networks beyond the department and institution are essential. And… it is hard to do, with the geographical disadvantage of a regional university location. But do it you must. Create conversations, discussions and collaboration beyond the department… across disciplines… across the nation… and across the world. If you are serious about being an academic and developing an academic career – then these relationships will be critical to future successes. Social media is the best tool to overcome the geographical distance. Here is the ‘How To’ guide for beginners…

Attend and speak at conferences… and make sure you put yourself ‘out there’… And when an opportunity arises to participate… Say ‘yes’ … often enough!

Don’t Stay Too Long

This is a tough one… because it often impacts personally as well as professionally. Academia (everywhere) is a harsh landscape – it is a bumpy ride. To survive – you have to move a bit. Be prepared to relocate or you will inevitably stagnate… don’t outstay your welcome.

In the new era of Post-Truth the prevailing wind seems to be toying with the idea of a fixed false belief that better things/people/others comes from faraway places… Don’t fall for that lie! Don’t stay too long… If things are starting to sour around you –chances are, it is probably not you… just that you are not new enough, exotic enough… and way too ‘local’ – taken for granted in a sense. We humans seem to be tantalised by the myth that the local known quantities are never good enough…there might be something better out there, somewhere… in the universe… So, rather than promoting and supporting our own people, we look for unicorns in faraway places with promises of great things… and then we live with our disappointment when that poor unsuspecting unicorn turned out to be much more ordinary than was hoped for. The delusions of it all! We think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. The hard truth fact is: It’s not! But deluded, we persist in pursuit of the next exotic creature to grace our faculty doormat. So – don’t hang around too long… if you want to progress an academic career… you will need your CV to demonstrate international experience at some point… and a couple of universities will be handy to show a broad experience in academia. Stay long enough for an outcome… but not long enough to be hamstrung.

Take Risks

You will need to be prepared to take some risks… but the ones that you are OK to also take responsibility for … do your own risk analysis… some rules need to be challenged from time to time… some might need to be broken. If you have a good idea and you hit a brick wall… fine the work around. And – above all grab an opportunity when it arises. Some of them will be good! Occasionally, you will get it wrong – live with it and move on… grab the next good thing.


Did you read that headline carefully? Did you hear what I said? I’ll say it louder: WRITE. Publication is currency. So is a PhD – you need one… do it in the most timely way that you can – don’t delay the start…there will never be a better time. It is a horrid thing to have to endure – especially if you have a family and work as well… but you have to do it. You will be stuck, disgruntled, put-upon, and probably capsulized until you do…just get on an do it. And if you have one… write! Right?! Got it … Write.

Be Grateful

I’m thankful for many great colleagues and collaborations across almost 10 years at my university… I have embraced some good opportunities… I have taken some risks… and… I have learnt a great deal… I am grateful for all for the people that have shared their knowledge, enthusiasm and kindness with me… I am grateful that the university was established in my rural and regional home town… I am grateful for the environment in which I have lived nad worked … the country, the people… and especially my family who have been the backbone of my resilience… and have loved me unconditionally, no matter what – I am so, so, so grateful.

New Horizon

I am looking back with gratitude and looking forward with hope. On the horizon is a new country, and new research project, innovation in a greenfield area of research… it will be exciting and challenging – there will be hard work ahead… keep following to find out how landing in Denmark goes for an Aussie E Mental Health researcher…. Thanks Australia… Thanks Denmark… a new chapter begins…

If you are new to academia… I hope you have found a tip or two that will be relevant to you… and if you have been in academia for a while… I hope you are inspired to find new ways to thrive and opportunities to grab to enrich your career. Either way – the world needs us… people will always need nurses. We nurses are charged with the health promotion, recovery and well-being of all of the people in the world – it is a big ask… step up!

Would I do it again…? Yes… mostly… but… if only I had known…! and No… Somethings I have done… I would never do again… !

for more….




Rural #mentalhealth in Australia: Building on #strengths

  1. 62 mircoblogs about #Rural #mentalhealth in Australia and Building on our #strengths

  1.  related text:
  1. #Rural is Multi dimensional concept…

  1. #RuralCulture… being from the bush…
  1. #RuralPlace… w/ psychological, emotional, socio-eco constructs
  1. #RuralIdentity… connection to place & people
  1. #RuralGeography…index & zones
  1. #Rural #MentalHealth – plan for 1/3 Australian population in #rural & #regional communities
  1. #mateship: Inter-relatedness #Caring #Connected #MutuallySupportive

  1. #mateship & #Rural lifestyle implications for #recovery in rural #mentalhealth
  2. #WaltzingMatilda A #rural #cultural anthem?
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability: Rural itinerant #agricultural workforce

  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability – #loneliness & #isolation
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability : Sleeping rough – homeless. No regular shelter
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability: #FoodSecurity #access to #quality #foods & services
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability: financial insecurity, petty crime, police & law matters
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #vulnerability: Loss of #hope for the future – suicide risk.
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: volatile cconomic base – #agricultural influences #Walcha

  1. #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: Limited access to public services & amenities
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: Travel distance/time & transport & fuel
  1. #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: #Environmental #vulnerability – drought, flood, rain, fire

22 #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: Vocational thresholds & un/under employment

23 #rural #mentalhealth #pressurepoints: getting the stoicism balance right #nottoomuch #nottoolittle #Walcha

24 #suicide: 800,000+ people die by suicide each year – one person every 40 seconds

25 #suicide: in 2014 2,864 #Australians died

26 #suicide: Leading cause of death for #Australian #youth. (25% of total youth deaths)

27 #suicide: 65,000 people attempt suicide & 600,000 think about suicide each year #Australia

28 #rural #mentalhealth fact: 16% higher prevalence in rural communities

29 #rural #mentalhealth fact: Rural men more stoic – reluctant to seek help

30 #rural #mentalhealth fact: Rural women higher levels #depression & #anxiety

31 #rural #mentalhealth fact: Most vulnerable period 15-24 years

32 #rural #mentalhealth fact: Young rural men suicide rate double urban

33 #rural #mentalhealth fact: 85 yr+ rural men highest suicide rate

34 #rural #mentalhealth #risk: Low-socio-eco circumstances & Unemployment

35 #rural #mentalhealth #risk: Female gender and unmarried

36 #rural #mentalhealth #risk: Alcohol abuse

37 #rural #mentalhealth #risk: History of childhood sexual abuse

38 #rural #mentalhealth #risk: Poor social networks &/or small size of primary support groups

39 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Longer duration of rural residency improves #QoL

40 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Strong social connections

41 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Close social proximity despite geographical distances

42 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Open spaces – interaction with nature

43 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Access to farm gate fresh food

44 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Short travel times (locally)

45 #rural #mentalhealth #strength: Unique employment (ag/ mining)

46 #rural #mentalhealth #goingforward: improved political & social awareness

47 #rural #mentalhealth #goingforward: #DigitalTherapies – #ementalhealth

48 #rural #mentalhealth #goingforward: #EarlyIntervention & #Prevention

49 #rural #mentalhealth #goingforward: Progressive society for #LBGT. Reduction in #stigma #bullying #racism

50 #rural #mentalhealth #goingforward: Addressing historic issues eg royal commission sexual abuse

51 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: Reducing face-to-face services & amenities

52 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: Insufficient rural mental health public budgets

53 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: Unreliability of #internet services

54 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: #Ice, #cannabis, #drugs, #substance misuse

55 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: Economic & #rural commodity downturns

56 #threats #rural #mentalhealth: Environmental factors

57 #rural #mentalhealth#resilience #promotion: Enhancing and supporting social connection

58 #rural #mentalhealth#resilience #promotion:Invite men to seek help earlier

59 #rural #mentalhealth#resilience #promotion: Enhance & Support public & other transport infrastructure

60#rural #mentalhealth#resilience #promotion: Advocates & champions across rural sectors & politics

61 #rural #mentalhealth #resilience #promotion: Sustain self-care; satisfaction in life & hope generation

62 #rural #mentalhealth #resilience #promotion: drive & support #Digital literacy & #ementalhealth innovation


#EMentalHealth: Digital interventions blended with traditional care.


…what is E Mental Health?


E Mental Health has been around for the last 50 years, perhaps more, in a rudimentary fashion using two-way radio and landline telephones. The idea of consulting with, and supporting, patients (and their families) using communication technology is well established. We have been using telephone services in mental health for many years, but in recent times, E Mental Health has snowballed to include a wide range of electronic and digital technologies enabling mental health promotion, early intervention and longer-term treatments in both stand-alone and blended care formats.

Increasingly, it is seen as a viable and cost effective strategy to integrate or blend care within a comprehensive suite of mental health service delivery options, making it possible to help more people at a time and place of convenience to them (Wilson R. L. & Usher, 2015). A wide range of digital interventions are emerging, however not all of them has been validated for safety and efficacy in clinical trials. Never-the-less, it is known that positive engagement in mental health interventions (especially where behaviour change is required) is improved where technology-based strategies are included in either standalone or blended therapies (Alkhaldi et al., 2016). Digital interventions can be described as “programs that provide information and support – emotional, decisional and/or behavioural – for physical and/or mental health problems via a digital platform” (Alkhaldi et al., 2016; Bailey et al., 2010).

E Mental Health is expanding into new and exciting areas of practice, and for clinicians and health researchers, this is a particularly dynamic time. The general community are engaged and ready to use E Mental Health innovation (Fox & Duggan, 2012). More than that… people now expect to find useful mental health information, support and even treatment in digital formats (Fraser, Randell, DeSilva, & Parker, 2016). People expect to access E Mental Health in a range of forms as simply and quickly as pulling their smart phones out of their pockets. Increasingly, a ground swell exists for self-care E Mental Health and this is gaining widespread popularity (Alkhaldi et al., 2016). Many people prefer to receive, information, guidance and even treatment in the privacy, and comfort of their own homes where they remain connected to their place and daily practical life competencies that underpin their optimal wellbeing (Bissell, 2013).

The 21st Century E Mental Health reality is that health care professionals can deploy a virtual mental health clinic in the pocket, handbag, or backpack of the majority of people in the developed world, and for many people in developing countries also (Brusse, Gardner, McAullay, & Dowden, 2014; Wilson, Ranse, Cashin, & McNamara, 2013). The global opportunity that is available by using the personal Internet connected smart devices of individuals everywhere has enormous potential and capacity to promote mental health, and to reduce the burden of global mental illness (ICT Data and Statistics Division Telecommunication Development Bureau Geneva Switzerland International Telecommunications Union., 2012; Proudfoot, 2013). These are exciting times.

3 main categories for E Mental Health services:

  • Voice/Text/SMS
  • Video
  • Web 1 & 2.

voice & text…


  • Two-way radio UHF services where mobile or cell phone coverage is poor (for example, Royal Flying Doctors Service in remote regions of Australia).
  • Call centre-based services to triage and arrange intake or referral to individuals seeking entry to mental health care services (for example NSW Health free call numbers in Australia) (Elsom, Sands, Roper, Hoppner, & Gerdtz, 2013).
  • Call centre-based services to crisis mental health help lines (for example Australian services such as: Lifeline, Suicide Call Back Service, Kids Help Line). Similar services are available in most countries where free public mental health care services/insurance also exist.
  • Most countries have an emergency service free call telephone number such as 000 in Australia, 911 in USA, 112 in Europe and 999 (or 112) in the UK.
  • Mobile/cell phone SMS or text-based services (“Nancy Lublin: Texting that saves lives,” 2012).

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  • Telepsychiatry – frequently refered to as video links between health services where the consumer or patient and/or carer is in one location, while the specialist mental health clinician/s are in a separate location. A synchronised time is arranged to make a private video consultation link-up. This allows people to receive specialist care without the need to travel to a far away appointment in a distant location (for example Queensland Health (Queensland Health., 2013; Statewide telehealth services., 2013) and )
  • More recently Skype has provided a platform that enables flexible video based consultation and added an element of convenience and simplified technology.

web 1 & web 2…


  • Email usage and web browser literacy is now generally considered to be a basic life skill for adults, where an integration of web literacy develops as people are able to explore, build and connect relevant information that is useful to them and for solving a range of problems from a self help perspective. For example: Browser search engines such as Google and associated free email host services such as gmail have provided a virtual and digital context where people are more able to search for health information aligned with their health needs and specific health question.
  • Web 1 has provided a platform for health care professionals to develop static information and education resources for the general public (for example: beyond blue, black dog), and also website based intervention tools. For example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (“myCompass. Introductory video,” 2010) and Mindfulness Based Therapy.
  • E Mental Health electronic patient records such as the European E health action plans and in Australia (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare., 2016).
  • Call centre-based services have been able to add value to their telephone services, by providing extra general information on website connected to their services so that they can support callers further. (For example: Lifeline)
  • Web 2 has expanded the options available even further by integrating all other options with a synchronous real time, and asynchronous convenient times, social media enhanced interactive experience that is particularly convenient to the general population, and it is this element of E Mental Health that offers particular promise as new service and interventions are developed.
  • Smart devices, and especially smart phones, facilitate the opportunity to utilise apps to enhance the mental health service portfolio, with many apps currently available as information or treatment services.
  • Personal electronic accessories such as fitness monitoring devices (eg fitbit or the apple watch) that sync activity levels, such as heart rate, calorie consumption, with smart device diary tools to monitor health characteristics and behavioural change. Fitbit has demonstrated effectiveness as a monitoring tool to enhance engagement in self-care and promoting health and wellbeing generally. The integration of these personal monitors into health care is gradually occurring.
  • Gamification in E Mental Health, enhancing engagement in mental health self-care, and gaming-based interventions is an area of particular growth. Gamification introduces a fun and engaging way to interact with health promotion, digital intervention and to foster behavioural change with the added incentives and motivation of providing rewards for efforts. Some gamification is simple and brief such as gif files that prompt and guide breathing to assist in reducing the experience of panic or anxiety.
  • More advanced gamification is used to connect with various populations, for example, young people. Integrating gamification software strategies into mental health promotion and strategies will target at risk populations.
  • Social media is a useful platform for teaching the public, student health professionals and less engaged experienced clinicians about mental health information and clinical skill development. We know that many health professions students prefer to gain their discipline information for social media such as Facebook (Usher et al., 2014). We also know that a growing number of health professionals are using social media to create virtual communities for research, practice, knowledge exchange and mentoring purposes.

blended capacity…

The common usage of personal smart phones and access to computers and other smart devices has driven a level of integration so that we are now in an era where voice, video and web-based resources are available, and often in a blended format so that all three can be use simultaneously and either in synchronous or asynchronous formats. This provides service users and service providers with a level of flexibility and convenience not seen previously.

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commercial & social enterprise influence in the E Mental Health arena…

Plenty of innovation in the field of E Mental Health is occurring at a rapid pace, with commercial and social enterprises quick to respond to the global appetite to address mental health problems generally. There are many apps and websites to choose from – some with costs, others free to access. This dynamic has both risks and benefits associated with it.


  • A general population wide awareness and expectation about accessing mental health information and support in an electronic environment.
  • Populations skilled and literate in the use of electronic devices and digital technologies such as apps, web site navigation, email and social media.

risks and limitations…

  • The trustworthiness, reliability, dependability and credibility of many E Mental Health activities in the commercial and social zones are not known because E Mental Health research and development occur at a slower pace than the commercial and social environment, and with a rigorous process to demonstrate efficacy and patient safety. Thus, health service providers and clinicians are reluctant to engage in E Mental Health initiatives with out best practice rigour to support their practice.
  • Clinical trials take a significant amount of time, planning, design and testing to underpin evidence to support safe practice. In the context of the rapid pace of change in the E environment generally, this poses a challenge.
  • Not all clinicians are keen adopters of social media generally. Thus a digital literacy and skills base has not dominated the health environment generally to date. The mental health workforce is aging in the international sphere, and as younger and digitally literate workforce enter the mental health professions they will bring with them the ease and comfort of existing and operating in the various web environments (Wilson et al., 2013).

opportunities for safe E Mental Health development…

E Mental Health holds great promise for mental health care now, and into the future. There are some gaps at present, and there is a significant need for ongoing research to develop practice-ready tools to contribute to a blended care delivery system (Fraser et al., 2016). Blended care includes elements of face-to-face and online or electronic components of clinical mental health care.

Mental health clinicians and researchers need to develop and refine their skills in the use of e health care technologies – especially in regard to web-based tools, apps and social media (Wilson et al., 2013). Encouragingly, students in the health professions indicate that they are likely to have a strong grasp of electronic health care and information transfer because they bring pre-existing web-savvy skills to their pre-qualification studies (Usher et al., 2014).

Governments and funding bodies increasingly anticipate the incorporation of strategic E Mental Health care into health service delivery systems, because it aligns with economic business plans and population distribution plans (Department of Health., 2015; E-mental health strategy for Australia, 2012; European Commission, 2012).

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in summary…

  • E Mental Health is not new, but it is expanding at a rapid pace, driven by consumer demand and heath service financial constraints to deliver more services with limited budgets
  • Three main avenues exist for E Mental health: Voice/ text; video; and Web 1 & 2.
  • Opportunities exist to build safe E Mental Health into the future as research and development collaborate with willing practitioners to create a evidence base to support best practice in the E Mental Health field.


Alkhaldi, G., Hamilton, F. L., Lau, R., Webster, R., Michie, S., & Murray, E. (2016). The effectiveness of prompts to promote engagement with digital interventions: a systematic review. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 18(1), e6. doi:10.2196/jmir.4790

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. (2016). Safety in E Health.   Retrieved from

Bailey, J., Murray, E., Rait, G., Mercer, C., Morris, R., Peacock, R., . . . Nazareth, I. (2010). Interactive computer-based interventions for sexual health promotion. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 9(CD006483). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006483.pub2.

Bissell, D. (2013). Virtual infrastructures of habit; the changing intensities of habit through gracefulness, restlessness and clumsiness. Cultural Geographies, 0(0), 1-20.

Brusse, C., Gardner, K., McAullay, D., & Dowden, M. (2014). Social Media and Mobile Apps for Health Promotion in Australian Indigenous Populations: Scoping Review. J Med Internet Res, 16(12), e280. doi:10.2196/jmir.3614

Department of Health. (2015). e-Health.   Retrieved from

E-mental health strategy for Australia. (2012). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia Retrieved from$File/emstrat.pdf.

Elsom, S., Sands, N., Roper, C., Hoppner, C., & Gerdtz, M. (2013). Telephone survey of service-user experiences of a telephone-based mental health triage service. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 22, 437-443.

European Commission. (2012). eHealth Action Plan 2012-2020 – Innovative healthcare for the 21st century. Retrieved from Brussels: file:///Users/rhondawilson/Downloads/eHealthActionPlan2012-2020.pdf

Fox, S., & Duggan, M. (2012). Mobile Health 2012: Half of smartphone owners use their devices to get health information and one-fifth of smartphone owners have health apps Retrieved from California Health Care Foundation: E Mental Health.docx

Fraser, S., Randell, A., DeSilva, S., & Parker, A. (2016). Research Bulletin: E-mental health: the future of youth mental health? Retrieved from Orygen Youth Health:

ICT Data and Statistics Division Telecommunication Development Bureau Geneva Switzerland International Telecommunications Union. (2012). Mobile cellular subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, 2001-2011 (Excel Spreadsheet) Retrieved from

. from Telecommunication Development Bureau Geneva, Switzerland: International Telecommunications Union.


. myCompass. Introductory video. (2010). In B. D. I. m. program (Producer). Australia: Black Dog Institute.

Nancy Lublin: Texting that saves lives. (2012, April 2012). TED talks. Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved from

Proudfoot, J. (2013). The future is in our hands: The role of mobile phones in the prevention and management of mental disorders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47(2), 111-113.

Queensland Health. (Producer). (2013, 7 March 2013). Telehealth. Retrieved from

Statewide telehealth services. (Writer). (2013). Extending the reach of clinical health services throughout Queensland . In Q. health (Producer). Australia: Queensland health.

Usher, K., Woods, C., Casella, E., Glass, N., Wilson R. L., Mayner, L., . . . P., I. (2014). Australian health professions student use of social media. Collegian, 21(2), 95-101. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.02.004

Wilson R. L., & Usher, K. (2015). Rural nurses: A convenient co-location strategy for rural mental health care of young people. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 1-11. doi:DOI: 10.1111/jocn.12882

Wilson, R. L., Ranse, J., Cashin, A., & McNamara, P. (2013). Nurses and Twitter: The good, the bad, and the reluctant. Collegian(0). doi:


Future Nurses: resilient, transformative & tech savvy

Practice-informed nursing: The future of transformative nursing education and research in a technological context

steth and ecg

Three significant factors will impact on the future of nursing education and research in Australia

  1.  Entrenchment of a culture of patient safety among practice-ready graduates while offering transformative educational experiences to nursing students and building resilient communities. Rural and regional communities, Indigenous people, and international inclusiveness and connectivity will be particularly important.
  2.  Entrepreneurial nursing academics will be pivotal in developing innovative ways to fund practice and research projects; deliver quality-learning programs; and produce a strategic mix of research outputs. This is critical because of cuts to funding across the higher education sector and increasing competition for research grants.
  3. Capitalising on E Health – using the term broadly to cover not only storing, retrieving, maintaining and sharing patient records safely and effectively, but also electronic health service delivery assisted by communications technologies, such as web-conferencing, internet-based interventions, and the use of apps and social media. And there’s also E Health in academia – the way that the technologies are revolutionising the teaching, learning and research environment for nursing. Nursing academics’ expertise in E Health technologies will undoubtedly need to expand in the future.


transformative practice informed patient safety

The health industry expects universities to produce nursing graduates who are practice-ready and proficient in delivering quality health care where patients are safe, health risk is reduced, and deterioration is detected and responded to quickly. The graduates must be prepared for the high acuity of workplaces in the health sector, and must possess the indispensable attribute of resilience. Industry also expects graduates to be skilled in collaborative teamwork and capable of leadership and supervision early in their careers (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2010; Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2014; NSW Health, 2013).

A new era in the nursing discipline is dawning where transformative models of service and care are prioritised. The transformative process surpasses the traditions of ‘evidence-based practice’ and ‘life-long learning’, which frequently uses ‘time-spent’ as a metric to determine learning outcome.

Instead, future nursing needs contemporary continuous transformative learning, and practice-informed research using continuous models that are more flexible and nimble, in order to enhance capacity to adapt to rapid changes. Preparing students to be practice-ready has become increasingly challenging within the traditional three-year degree program, where specialty themes compete for inclusion. There is a need for innovative and entrepreneurial practice-informed teaching and learning to invigorate future curriculums, in conjunction with a balanced approach to practice-informed research agendas.

Postgraduate courseware will need to align with, and adapt to, market forces. In Australia, this includes addressing the changes announced by government to create Primary Health Networks and Health Care Homes, and ensuring the supply of qualified nurses to fill posts in these national centres (for example, Credentialed Mental Health Nurses). Advocating for appropriate reimbursement of specialist nurses will be a critical driver of postgraduate education (Australian College of Mental Health Nurses, 2013).

nurse entrepreneurialism in higher education

Funding for the higher education sector has been dwindling in recent years leading to major budgetary challenges, particularly for regional universities. Popular, high-enrolment courses like Bachelor of Nursing  will continue to be important and strategic contributors to the overall university budgets.

International university ranking analysts suggest that “strongly motivated academics can offset to some degree limited funding” (Williams, Leahy, de Rassenfosse, & Jensen, 2016). Actively seeking collaborations will be vital to ensuring research funding success at the highest level, and so will serious attention to grantsmanship.

Nursing curriculum, with its expensive practicums, will undergo closer fiscal scrutiny in the future. So will other teaching related expenditure, with imperatives to maintain industry accreditation, to provide quality educational experiences for students, to have genuine consumer participation in curriculum design, and to incorporate digital and simulated pedagogies while managing cost effectiveness.

A particular challenge for nursing is to improve the impact of nursing research generally. Co-investigative nurse membership of collaborative interdisciplinary research teams has been important. A newer challenge is to move towards a position of excellence in nurse-led health research. New opportunity exists to do this, with the Australian Research Council looking to widen the definition of measurable impact to include category 2 and 3 grants, and with impact metrics increasingly linked to Google open access outputs, and international linkages including co-authorship (Williams et al., 2016).

Nurse researchers will need to be grant-ready and this includes building track record in grant success, and generating publications from their research. Concurrently, nursing scholars will need to develop industry and research linkages (including international higher degree research student intakes), together with the technological skills to generate outputs in digital domains.

safe and effective e health innovations

State and Federal governments are turning their service delivery focus and funding streams toward E Health services to meet growing expectations across the Australian consumer population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013; Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2015). For example: digital gateways for triaging and accessing health care service provision (Department of Health, 2015), managing patient health records, and delivering, monitoring and evaluating health interventions (Christenson & Petrie, 2013; Department of Health, 2016; Department of Health, 2015; E Mental health strategy for Australia, 2012; Keast, 2016).

E Health skills will need to be recognised as a core competence in future nursing curriculums (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2015). The rise of E Health presents opportunities for nursing  with improved digital pedagogy learning design systems to produce nursing graduates who are practice-ready for the new and evolving practice domain of safe E Health. This has particular relevance for including and servicing rural and regional communities.

The nursing academy in Australia is trending against the odds. Nationally, enrolments are high, outputs and impact are strengthening despite dwindling higher education budgets for the discipline. Nursing academics will continue to drive the Australian nursing discipline into the future as they transform their focus towards practice-informed teaching and learning, practice-informed research integrated with international connectivity, and stronger collaborative relationships with the health sector and wider society.

vital signs monitor


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2013). Internet Activity, Australia, December 2012. (8153.0). Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved from
  2. Australian College of Mental Health Nurses. (2013). A Survey of Credentialed Mental Health Nurses working in the Mental Health Nursing Incentive Program.
  3. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. (2015). Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care Annual Report 2014/15. Retrieved from
  4. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. (2010). National Consensus Statement: Essential Elements for Recognising and Responding to Clinical Deterioration. (pp. 1-24). Sydney: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).
  5. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare. (2016). Safety in E Health. Retrieved from
  6. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2016). Primary Health Network (PHN) data. Retrieved from
  7. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2014). Australia’s Hospitals 2013-14. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:
  8. Australian Research Council. (2016). 2015-2016 State of Australian University Research ERA National Report. Retrieved from:
  9. Best, O. (2015). The cultural safety journey: An Australian nursing context. In O. Best & B. Fredericks (Eds.), Yardjuligin: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nursing and Midwifery Care (pp. 51-73). Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  10. Christenson, H., & Petrie, K. (2013). Information technology as the key to accelerating advances in mental health care. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47(2), 114-116.
  11. Department of Health. (2015). Australian Government Response to Contributing Lives, Thriving Communities – Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services. Canberra: Australian Government Retrieved from
  12. Department of Health. (2016). Health Budget 2016–17. Retrieved from
  13. Department of Health. (2015). e-Health. Retrieved from
  14. E-mental health strategy for Australia. (2012). Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia Retrieved from
  15. Godbold, N., & McCaffery, K. (2015). Improving care by listening: care communication and shared decsion-making Communicating quality and safety in health care (pp. 164-175). Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.
  16. Keast, K. (2016). How technology will advance nursing practice. Retrieved from
  17. Little, F., O’Brien, A., Gray, M., Wilson R. L., & Finn, A. (2015). Scoping novel rural mental health clinical placements for undergraduate nursing and social work students in Northern NSW. Final Report: 20th November 2015. Retrieved from Hunter & Central Coast Interdisciplinary Clinical Training Network:
  18. NSW Health. (2013). Policy Directive: Recognition and Management of Patients who are Clinically Deteriorating. (PD2013_049). Sydney: NSW Ministry of Health.
  19. Usher, K., Woods, C., Casella, E., Glass, N., Wilson R. L., Mayner, L., . . . P., I. (2014). Australian health professions student use of social media. Collegian, 21(2), 95-101. doi:10.1016/j.colegn.2014.02.004
  20. Williams, R., Leahy, A., de Rassenfosse, G., & Jensen, P. (2016). U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems 2016. Retrieved from
  21. Wilson, R. L., Ranse, J., Cashin, A., & McNamara, P. (2013). Nurses and Twitter: The good, the bad, and the reluctant. Collegian(0). doi:

The politics of rural mental health

Yesterday I was asked to discuss rural mental health with some other rural health colleagues in the rural and regional electoral seat of New England in Northern inland NSW on local ABC radio. With Federal Election 2016 bearing down on us (July 2, 2016) we looked at some of the pressure points for health in the electorate. Here is the audio from our discussion… hopefully this makes a useful contribution to the local debate, and advocates for fair and reasonable mental health service distribution in rural Australia – especially for our young people.

Click here to listen – happy to hear others views as well. sunset tractor 'retired'

photo credit Above New England

The youth mental health reform roller coaster: Tickets on sale now!

In Australia, moves are afoot to review and implement changes to the mental health services and programs on offer – including those offered to young people. Change always produces some tensions, and that will be the case again in this situation… but something had to give… change was needed to see equitable improvements, and none more obvious than for rural young people with mental health problems. So here we go  – join me on the slippery slope of mental health care reform roller coaster!

The media have labelled the staged funding reductions to early psychosis services as “Futures will be lost. Health fears as youth pychosis program dropped”  Read about it here:

This begs more questions: The  future of who…? Who will be advantaged…? And, who will be disadvantaged…? How do we achieve fairer and more equitable care for all of our young people throughout Australia? There are no easy answers or solutions… to suggest there are is to reveal a flippant disregard for the complexity of meeting the mental health needs of young people today.

I’m an optimist…

I hope that the government have got this right… and that a redistribution of youth psychosis program money will benefit young rural people more equitably as a result… Of course, advocating for the equitable mental health needs of young rural people has been my long-term professional activity of mine! So, I can only hope that this new direction to send funds to the primary health networks  – will in fact work for rural and regional young people where the gaps are larger! There are some risks to note. For example, how will people be mobilised from their comfort zones to take up work in new geographical regions…? Will this be supported in the recruitment of appropriate servicing of populations? Will it really be equitable? Or just equal? Will health professionals be contracted using brokerage models as they are ‘commissioned’ for services? And, if they are, how will this new model ensure that health professionals are able to be fully employed at reasonable pay rates, in keeping with their level of expertise?  How will we mitigate the risk of under-employment of people in low population communities yet maintain equitable service levels? How will the ‘gaps be filled’?  Has this been fully considered?



I don’t think that the new approach to funding of youth mental health care this is such a bad thing for rural and regional young people. I have been calling for a more equitable and inclusive distribution of the mental health dollar for many years now… (eg )

… it has not always made me popular…

The harsh reality is that rural youth often have much longer durations of untreated mental illness, poorer access to mental health services and poorer prognosis as a result… And, the largely urban-centric models of specialist youth mental health care have not met the demands for rural youth with mental health care needs. Something needs to give a little… perhaps this new funding model will be it… But – it needs to explain how it will include nursing expertise to promote mental health among young people at its coreBecause, nurses are already there in all communities… and they represent a present resource that can be better engaged in primary care.

How will nurses be engaged in the primary mental health care of young rural people? The role of nursing in the models of care continues to be vaguely described at best in current strategy offerings… Only using nurses for managing chronic care (ie the Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program) is a sure-fire for short-changing the mental health of young people… becasue… young people have simply not lived long enough to have ‘achieved’ chronic mental illness status… rendering them ineligible for government supported nursing care in the main! Thus, how will this new model of funding utilise the expertise of nurses to deliver primary mental health care to young people and mitigate the early identification and intervention end of the care spectrum problems? Remembering of course that nurses make up the largest proportion of  health professionals representing and the largest proportion of human resource for mental health service delivery throughout the country? Nurses need to be a large chunk of the journey towards successful new models of care – yet they seem to be overlooked in the latest iteration of change. Why?

I am not yet convinced the the Primary Health Networks will be the solution… but I am prepared to be open-minded about the possibilities… I hope we are seeing the beginnings of something substantially more useful than reshuffling deck chairs. I think closer federal collaboration with state health, education, family and community services and police/ justice services will bring more profitable benefits. But, while a two tier government approach persists in mental health service delivery (Federal and State/s), problems in administering equitable services will also persist with bureaucratic double-ups inevitable, ultimately soaking up some of the direct clinical and research spend potentials.

I agree with McGorry, that many gains have been achieved through the concentrating of specialist expertise in a small number of specialist services, and that it would be a shame to lose this. But, having built this considerable national human resource – if it were mobilised and dispersed across the country (for example,  the experts geographically relocated) this have a benefit of authentically redistributing the talent and in doing so benefit more people over time. Is it time to mobilise the specialist population for greater good in health service delivery? A question for health geographers and health ecologists to ponder. Will redistribution of funding trigger a wider set of conditions in communities such that mental health is more effectively promoted? I think that this is possible:

It is not all bad news, a new model could bring with it ‘catch-up’ conditions to more vulnerable and harder to reach young populations who should have convenient access to local mental health support where and when they require it. The challenge is for mental health professionals to work together using digital technologies to bring us together, it is after all what we expect of our clients these days! That is, to be satisfied with e mental health/ telehealth and digital gateway (triage) delivery….

Perhaps health professionals will also need to adapt our practices in the ways that we work and collaborate with each other – building virtual centres of excellence rather than geographical catchments of excellence. In doing so, some castles will be dismantled – and new ones will emerge… shifts in the sands of time across the landscape of mental health service and evidence development and  delivery are inevitable.

It is clear that the health budget in Australia will never be able to fund sufficient levels of mental health service delivery for Australian young people – our present budgets don’t go near sufficiency. Finding ways to squeeze a few extra drops of oil out of the rag are always going to be critical… the challenge is out for mental health researchers to be prudent in devising ways in which we can continue to do more, with less, and for politicians and policy makers to take heed of evidence as it emerges… And finally, for clinicians to be ready to adapt to the changing times as they evolve. None of that is easy!

Relevant other links:$File/response.pdf

Nurses on the 2016 Australia Day Honours List

Fabulous compilation of nursing honours for Australia Day.


Extracting information from, below are the Nurses named on the 2016 Australia Day Honours List.

Source: Source:

Professor Mari Angela Botti AM
Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia
Melbourne, Victoria
For significant service to nursing, and to medical education, as an academic and author, and to pain management research.

Deakin University:
Alfred Deakin Professor in Nursing, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health, since 2012.
Epworth Chair of Nursing, since 2004 and Professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, since 1998.
Coordinator, Bachelor of Nursing (Clinical Honours), since 2005.
Chair, Human Research Ethics Committee, current.
Executive Member, Quality and Patient Safety Strategic Research Centre, current.

Lecturer, School of Nursing, La Trobe University, 1988-1998 and Senior Tutor, 1986- 1988 and Sessional Clinical Teacher, 1985-1986.
Epworth Healthcare:
Chair in Nursing, Epworth/Deakin Centre for Clinical Nursing Research, Epworth HealthCare, since 2004 and Member, Human Research and Ethics Committee (HREC)…

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Deep in the pockets of nurses… all is revealed!

The contribution that our pockets make to the nursing profession is under-recognised! Nurses are adept at filling them – inside and out… Have you ever wondered what is inside a nurse’s pocket? Recently, some new nursing students, asked me what they would need for going on prac… and so, I turned out my pockets… this is what I found…

  • Smart phone – and before that mobile phones… and before that fax machine print outs!


  • Scissors: 29 years ago my enrolled nursing tutor said ‘a good nurse always carries scissors’, and since then, I have never been able to shake the habit, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the notion! I just wanted to be good! We used a short length of O2 tubing to stick on the pointy ends to avoid getting poked in the pocket!


  • Pocket clip An important accessory at one point was the metal pocket clip that had 3 or 4 stretchy pen holders – you could clip it on your pocket, then fill it with pens, scissors, artery forceps – and you looked the part!


  • Notebook with hand over notes. I used to have a very cute little pocket size ring binder… so stylish! It was my favourite.


  • Black pen or two… someone will borrow one pen and forget to give it back! So carry two! Actually, when I started we had a blue pen for most things, green pen for recording respiration rate on charts, and red pen for noting allergies and heart rate… it was a complicated business… – and then we made pen holder contraptions our of O2 tubing and micropore tape to attach to our pockets. It was the fashion in my hospital anyway! Then we moved on the four-colour clicking bic pen… they were all the rage! Now-a-days – black pen should do the job…


  • Stethoscope… Well … nearly, more likely swinging around your neck– but sometimes they will be stuffed in a pocket. Tip: Get your own… nobody want to share earwax!


  • Name tag… actually it is displayed on the outside of your uniform! But – there was a time when the most fashionable place to wear your nametag, was clipped to your pocket, and embellished with stickers! Then came the horribly unhygienic lanyard… and now we prefer the plastic magnetic nametag to wear on your top shirt pocket. But whatever the style of the era… Remember to stick it inside your pocket when you go off duty, otherwise people will look at you funny in the real world outside of the hospital!


  • Neuro torch there are the disposable ones… but my favourite was a very groovy little red aluminium torch that double as my night shift torch as well. It had a key ring on the end of it, so I could attach it to my scissors to keep them together.


  • Chewing gum or mint tin or a box of jols help to ward of the experience of bad smells… say no more! Just chew.


  • Tube of paw paw cream… or lanolin. Ever so useful in so many situations… a blog could be dedicated to the wonders of paw paw cream alone!


  • Roll of micropore tape. The nurses answer to gaffer tape!


  • Sachets of alcowipes. If the problem cant be solved with paw paw cream of micropore…then the alcowipe will do the job!


  • $4 for a coffee just in case someone does a coffee run. Café Latte : Skim milk and no sugar thanks. But anything caffeine laden coffee style will do!


  • Bungs Nothing worse than being caught bungless and with not enough hands to fix it!


  • Pair of gloves…


  • Torn off piece of paper hand towel probably with U/A results scribbled on it… or vital signs… of coffee order.


  • Artery forceps – no cannula too tricky!


  • Prompt cards for physical assessment, mental health assessment and pathology normal range values. These helped me heaps with my report writing – especially when I was starting out!

Now as an academic nurse these days, my pocket contents has been modified slightly…

  • My iphone with my facebook, twitter, instragram and linkedin apps all fired up.


  • Thumb drive with the lecture of the day.


  • Coloured white board markers people complain about the orange and green ones… but I like them!


  • Postit notes… multi-colours preferred.


  • Class roll


  • Groovy coloured pen – because I get sick of black… and I like nice stationary!


  • A riveting journal article to read if students are late… scribbled on with a groovy pen.


  • And …still have $4 for a coffee!

I asked around and here is what other nurses said on Rural Mental Health facebook page that they put in their pockets…

Dymphia said: Alcohol wipes, IV cap, scissors, clamp, 2 x black pens, whiteboard marker, neuro torch, roll of tape.

Crystal said: Alcohol wipes, IV Bungs, scissors, clamps, numerous black pens, sharper pen, white board marker , neuro torch, tape, notebook, candy or biscuits, phone, unsolve wipes, handover paper, lip gloss (LIP GLOSS!! Nice touch)

Josie said: Duress alarm

Cassie said: Stickers and bubbles….Oh… And a few nursing bits and pieces too. Lol. But mainly bubbles and stickers. #paedsnurse

Angela said: Pens, scissors, forceps, patient list, T-bag & gloves in my right pocket. 1 vial each of Suxamethonium, midazolam, a 1+3+5ml syringes & alcohol wipes in my left pocket #aneastheticnurse

SO – there you have – nurses pockets turned out… and the contents are revealed!

This year is my 29th anniversary of commencing nursing… I have nursed in a lot of different places… and I have seen a lot of human pain, and I have been privileged enough to be in a position as a nurse to alleviate some of that pain.

I love nursing – always have! There is always something happening… it is rarely dull, not if you are playing it right!

If I had to choose the one thing that is most important for a nurses pocket – here it is: the smart phone.

One of the survival strategies for striving in a nursing career is to Be Prepared! And…one way to do that is by filling our pockets with the stuff we need, or easy and convenient access! My pocket contents have changed a bit over the time… and there is one item that I prize most and I think should be in every nurses pocket all the time… that item is your Smart Phone! Times have changed… it is a tool that we will see used more and more over the coming years with more advances in smart technologies and E health.

My tip: If you don’t have a smartphone– get one! Get involved in the social media conversion amongst nurses around the globe! And, be prepared to adapt to the changes that are upon us all. Health care promotion and intervention is increasingly happening in the virtual world… for real people!