GET BACK TO SCHOOL: Symbiotic relationships between emergency nurses and nursing students

Katie L. East1,2, Amanda L. Harley1,2, Elicia L. Kunst2, Dr Amy N.B. Johnston1,3,

1 Gold Coast University Emergency Department,1 Hospital Boulevarde, Southport, Queensland, 4215, Australia
2 Southern Cross University, Southern Cross Drive, Billinga, Queensland, 4225, Australia
3 Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University QLD 4222 Australia

Two emergency nurses will provide an experiential account of working clinically in a metropolitan emergency department while simultaneously teaching undergraduate nursing students in various university settings. They will outline the impact these distinct roles have had on them professionally and personally, the importance of shaping and inspiring the future of nursing, and of their contribution to the development and implementation of professional development in nursing.  These areas are critical as the scope and capability of the nursing workforce continues to expand. The presentation will deliver two different perspectives on the world of academia, juggling class schedules, rostering, developing course material, the horrors of pre-reading, managing unprepared students, social media and reading 45 versions of the same essay without wanting to scream.

A diverse range of nursing experience and current practice is needed to enable student engagement and learning. With a focus on an introduction to online learning and their recent experiences of world travel combined with online teaching, they will also discuss rostering and working around two demanding jobs. An emphasis will be the importance of the teacher/student relationship, the difficulties faced by the teacher in this era of awkward Facebook friending from students, and the importance of technology and how it can be of benefit in the classroom or lab setting. The presenters will emphasise their belief that teaching needs to be exciting and engaging, as well as informative and most importantly benefiting student development. They will discuss their role of job sharing in the academic environment and the positive and negative effects that this may have on their students. Critically, they will also outline how their academic role is beneficial to them as clinicians in the emergency department setting, expanding their horizons as well as those of their colleagues. The importance of management support for ongoing clinical development for those looking to work in both fields simultaneously will also be highlighted.  The speakers will talk on the difficulty faced when failing a student, and the confrontation of reading student evaluations of teaching and how this positively and negatively influences the approach to teaching.

This presentation will also focus on the tension between theory and practice and the need to demonstrate to students the best evidence based practice while engaging in real life scenarios to encourage and enhance critical thinking skills.  The speakers will explain how coming from different backgrounds they both have a realistic and functional approach to engaging the students in appropriate and well-structured learning, incorporating fun while teaching the students to embrace and enhance their critical thinking skills.  In addition, the presenters often challenge the students with hard moral dilemmas and accurate clinical scenarios in order to encourage the student to think outside of the box instead of relaying what the text book tells them to do.

The presentation aims to expand the horizons of listeners and engage the audience by encouraging and empowering them to explore new and exciting ideas of education .  The speakers would like to take you on a fun filled journey through their experiences dealing with nursing students both in and out of the emergency setting and the triumphs, hurdles and pitfalls that come with the territory.


Katie East was the winner of the 2015 ICEN best rapid fire talk and is an experienced clinical nurse working at Gold Coast University Hospital Emergency Department and teaching at Southern Cross University. Katie is also a rural and isolated practice nurse. She has worked from the Cape of Queensland to the mining town of Broken Hill. As part of her ED work she has developed experience in forensic nursing; offering support to patients in locations such as the Southport Watch house. She has recently entered the world of academic teaching and offers a fresh perspective on teacher-student relationships and the struggles involved.

Amanda Harley is an experienced nurse and qualified secondary teacher who has juggled ED clinical work and academic teaching for 5 years. She currently works at Gold Coast University Hospital Emergency Department and both Southern Cross University and Griffith University. She has a Masters in Emergency Nursing and is passionate about developing students, engaging their ability to think critically and prepare effectively for practice. She brings a plethora of clinical environment teaching experience to her tertiary role, with teaching and facilitation experience in a variety of settings and from around the world.