A lifelong passion for health and education has found expression in the Nursing and Midwifery clinical laboratories for Senior Technical Officer - Clinical Practice Suite, Mel Williams.
As an eight-year-old St John’s Junior, Ms Williams fell in love with healthcare, winning awards and competitions in first aid simulation. At 30, she finally studied nursing as an enrolled nurse, with a plan to become a nurse and midwife. When life brought her to Darwin with little kids and she could no longer do shift work, she found a job at the CDU Placements Office and soon moved to the Clinical Practice Suite.
There, her passion for health and education collided in the world of simulation.
“Students can struggle with imagining a scenario they have never experienced,” said Ms Williams.
“Using high fidelity manikins with voices, sounds and blood pressure, CDU students can experience a range of nursing scenarios, including inserting catheters and nasal gastric tubes, and intubating patients."
With encouragement from VET Lecturer in Nursing, Kobi Schutz, Ms Williams has almost completed a Certificate IV in Teaching and Learning so that she is eligible for a lecturing role in the Diploma of Nursing. Together with Technical Officer, Carina Abrantes, she recently attended the Laerdal Simulation User Network (SUN) Conference in Sydney.
“We are leaders in large-scale simulation. Our students train in real-time nursing shifts, on a busy simulated ward with up to 12 different manikins, each with its own unique personality, range of health issues and idiosyncrasies.”
Currently, the scenarios include a Greek lady, an Indigenous man, an African woman, a crabby smoker and a hungover drink driving accident victim, and new scenarios are being developed for 2020. Ms Williams hopes to collaborate with drama students at the Casuarina campus, where they will record new voices, each with their own unique set of circumstances.
For advanced scenarios, the university will need to invest in new manikins at $25,000 each. The new manikins have bilateral pulses down the body, nasal gastric tubes that aspirate fluid, and indwelling catheters with urine flush back, realistic skin, chest rise and fall and blinking eyes.
Other forms of simulation at CDU include virtual reality oculars, which explore inside the body, and Palmerston Reginal Hospital augmented reality training tools developed in collaboration with the Innovative Media Production Studio (IMPS).
For Ms Williams, the next step is to complete a Bachelor of Nursing.
“The Bachelor of Nursing is the best way forward to progress my career within the university and nationally, and it will give me the background I need to propel simulation forward at CDU.”
Ms Williams and Ms Abrantes are planning to present CDU’s unique large-scale simulation at next year’s Laerdal SUN Conference.