Clinical Education Awards recognise outstanding achievements in difficult circumstances 

Monash Health has a reputation for providing outstanding clinical education placement opportunities, and last week we recognised the achievements of our top clinical educators. This year, these clinical educators provided students with guidance and mentorship during extremely difficult circumstances. 

Chief Allied Health Officer Dani Ryan hosted the 2020 Allied Health Outstanding Clinical Educators Awards via Webex on 26 November to an audience of more than 110 Monash Health staff. 

The Awards recognised recipients in each of the allied health disciplines, as well as providing a snapshot of clinical education at Monash Health and presentations by two guest speakers. The reactions to aspects of Educating with Compassion by Dr Debbie Ling ranged from being deeply moved to agreeing health professionals need to engage in more self-care, while Associate Professor Simone Gibson provided her expertise on the topic of Supervising Projects Effectively. 

Dr Ling is a Lecturer in the Department of Social Work, Monash University and a Research Fellow in the Epworth Monash Rehabilitation Medicine Unit. She is also a senior clinician social worker at Epworth HealthCare. Associate Professor Simone Gibson is Director of Education for the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash University and Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food. She worked as a dietitian in Southern Health before transitioning to academia. 

Clinical education is a vital aspect of every health professional’s career. Whether as a first year student trying to implement the theoretical concepts explained, or as a final year student hoping to gain as much experience in a practical setting before entering employment, it provides a way to learn from those who have years of knowledge and skills. 

That knowledge and those skills were certainly tested this year when many of our clinical educators needed to adapt their teaching styles to deal with COVID-19 workplace practices. Additionally, remote learning was a component some were required to include, as their student placements were unable to attend face-to-face or on-site. 

Given these difficult circumstances, it is wonderful to hear the comments received from student placements about the clinical educators Monash Health has on staff. As pleasing, were the responses from our Award recipients to the question of what they found to be most rewarding about being a clinical educator. Seeing students gain confidence in their professional skills and find it easier to interact with patients, were common areas clinical educators noticed students improve the longer the placements lasted. But, it was also stated that students began to treat patients in a more holistic way – something we see our allied health staff aiming to achieve for all patients when working in collaboration with each other.  

A great takeaway from the Awards was Monash Health’s ability to continue to provide quality placement activity, in most disciplines we increased activity, during a time when across the board, Victoria had decreased figures. At Monash Health, in Allied Health, we had a reduction in student placements of 2% overall compared to average of 15% experienced by the rest of the state.   

In addition to the work of our clinical educators, who provided excellent learning experiences despite the challenges provided by the pandemic, the team of Allied Health Student Co-ordinators has done an amazing job of finding solutions and rearranging placements, as well as supporting clinical educators and students during placement. This work is hidden behind the scenes, but without it, clinical placements would simply not be possible.   

The Awards recipients were selected by the Head of Profession and the Student Coordinators. The judges looked for nominations that reflected excellence in clinical teaching, outstanding professionalism, adaptability and the ability to inspire our next generation of health professionals. There were many, many nominations and they had a very tough job.  

Nine individuals and two teams from across Monash Health Allied Health were recognised for their outstanding work. The winners of the 2020 Allied Health Outstanding Clinical Educators Awards are:   

Allied Health Assistant: Nicole Ellery (Dandenong Hospital) 

Audiology: Team. 

Exercise Physiology: Sarah Newton (Thomas Street Community Health) 

Music and Art Therapy: Team. 

Nutrition and Dietetics: Karen Salamon (Monash Medical Centre). 

Occupational Therapy: Ellen Goh and Paul Flegeltaub (Kingston Centre). 

Physiotherapy: Shihoko Pearson (Monash Medical Centre). 

Podiatry: Jaymie Hughan (Dandenong Hospital). 

Social Work: Kirsty Smith (Pakenham CCT).  

Speech Pathology: Teresa Scanlon (Cranbourne Integrated Care Centre) and Dr Sandy Barry (Kingston Centre). 

Congratulations to all our recipients. 

Approved by Danielle Ryan. 

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