The Nursing Emergency eXternal Trauma Programme

Dr Sharyn Ireland1, Rachel Cross1,2, Kelly Decker1, Associate Professor Biswadev  Mitra1,3

1Emergency and Trauma Centre, Alfred Health., Melbourne, Australia, 2School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University., Melbourne, Australia., 3Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, Monash University., Melbourne, Australia


Emergency nurses working in non-Major Trauma Service (non-MTS) facilities face the challenge of providing immediate care to seriously injured patients, despite infrequent presentations at their workplace. A one-day education programme endorsed by the Australian College of Nursing was developed to provide contemporary trauma education for nurses. The aim of this study was to report participants’ perceptions of their experience of this programme.


Peer reviewed lesson plans were developed to guide educational activities.  Of 32 participants, 24 consented to and completed pre and post-programme surveys.  Thematic analysis and descriptive statistics were used to report study findings.


Most participants were nurses with greater than two years’ experience in Emergency Nursing (92%).  Trauma patient transfers each year from a non-MTS to a Major Trauma Service occurred infrequently; eight nurses (33.3%) reported greater than 10 trauma transfers per year.  Participant expectations of the programme included personal growth, knowledge acquisition, increased confidence and a focus on technical skills.  Participants reported the day to be worthwhile and valuable; improved confidence, increased knowledge, and the opportunity to discuss current evidence based practice were highly regarded.  Recommendations for future programmes included extending to two days and include burns and more complex pathophysiology.


With centralisation of trauma care to major trauma services, frequent and continuing education of nurses is essential.  Nurses from non-Major Trauma Service facilities in Victoria found this programme worthwhile as they gained knowledge and skills and increased confidence to care for trauma patients.


Dr Ireland has an extensive background in Emergency Nursing with her career expanding 25 years. Completing her postgraduate qualification in Intensive Care Nursing with a Major in Emergency Nursing, she has a keen interest in all aspects of Emergency Nursing. In 2011, Sharyn was awarded a Doctor of Nursing for her thesis titled “Optimising the Assessment and Management of Adult Major Trauma Patients who are Hypothermic”. Publications from this work have influenced the clinical assessment and management of hypothermia in trauma patients, having won a number of prizes for her published work. Sharyn continues to support nurses worldwide in their endeavour to complete their own research in this area of practice. Sharyn’s passion for education in particular the use of Simulation to enhance learning experiences for health professionals has led to many interesting adventures. Sharyn was the fellow on the Victorian Multidisciplinary Trauma Resource Management Project where simulation was used to support rural and regional nursing, medical and paramedical staff to develop their knowledge and skills both technical and non-technical in their own working environments. She is currently a senior adjunct lecturer at La Trobe University and a Clinical Nurse Educator at the Emergency and Trauma Centre, Alfred Health.