Congratulations Clare Hellyer

On Friday 10 May the Annual Nursing and Midwifery Awards and Scholarships dinner (NAMAS) took place. Associate Nurse Unit Manager at Ward 5 Nest (NICU) Clare Hellyer was awarded 2019 Nurse of the year and The Excellence in Nursing Award. Unfortunately due to illness Clare was unable to attend, now recovered Clare sat down and talked us through her journey as a nurse and what winning 2019 Nurse of the year means to her. Congratulations Clare.

1.Tell us about role at Monash Health 

I am an Associate Nurse Unit Manager at MCH – Nest (SCN & NICU), Clayton, and look after some of our most vulnerable patients and their families. I have been in this position for approximately 5 years.

2. Tell us about yourself

I have been nursing for 15 years and began my nursing career as a Division 2/Enrolled Nurse. I completed my Bachelor of Nursing while continuing to work as a Div 2 on bank – which provided an excellent learning environment. After I finished my grad year, I then applied to work at Monash Newborn and have been part of this team ever since. I have gone on to complete my Post Grad Cert in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing, and I have continued to expand my leadership role – initially as a CNS then to ANUM. I am a wife, and a mother of two young girls, and while I work hard on my work-life balance, I think I’ve found it.

3.What made you want to become a nurse?

I decided I wanted to be a nurse the minute I found out NICU existed. It was an area of nursing that fascinated me from the start. Being able to help and support families through some of the scariest times of their lives, and advocate for the infants in my care when they can’t speak for themselves, is one of the biggest challenges, but also most rewarding part of my job.

4.What does winning nurse of the year at NAMAS mean to you?

I was so very overwhelmed to be notified that I had won Nurse of the Year, especially as I had tended to undervalue my contribution. To be chosen as the winner out of so many amazing and innovative projects, is honestly one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. To know I have made a difference to the nursing world, is something I am truly proud of.

5.As winner of nurse of the year you receive a scholarship to go further in your professional development, have you had any thought about this and how you will use it?

I am currently completing studies to become an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). This scholarship will contribute enormously to that. I decided to become an IBCLC to further support mothers and families on their journey, as breastfeeding and the challenges associated with it is something I hold very close to my heart.

6.You were recognised for your work in expanding the scope of practice for the Nurses in the team, and improved care for some of our most critically ill patients. Can you talk us through what you did?

I developed, produced and implemented a learning package, (paying particular acknowledgment to other models at different facilities) to enable ‘expert’ class nurses or CNSs to be able to cannulate a certain group of infants. This allows for enhanced scope of practice for our nurses, but also provides a new model of care, ensuring infants have timely access to care when needed.

7.What’s next for you?

I will continue to study and sit the IBCLC exam in October. Until then I am in the early stages of developing a competency to teach a select group of CNSs to change CVC dressings. And working on a project to start Nurse-led ward rounds.  

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