Courses with students and the profession in mind brought Professor Tori to TUAWhat I really like about Torrens University is that it has a creative approach to facilitating educational opportunities. The courses are designed with both the students and industry requirements in mind. This ensures that the student experience is a good one and, importantly, that graduates are job ready and have strong employment options. Agility and resilience are key for Nursing students. The courses at Torrens really give students the expertise and confidence to be resilient and to adapt to any healthcare situation.
Committed to educating nursesI believe strongly in lifetime learning. I started my career as an Enrolled Nurse; I undertook a diploma and then a degree to become a Registered Nurse, and have undertaken advanced practice nursing degrees to become an endorsed Nurse Practitioner. I’ve had broad opportunities in Nursing, and now I want to foster those same opportunities for others. When I was nursing, I regularly undertook sessional education; then I jumped into academia full time about a decade ago. It's been great. I have a Bachelor of Nursing and a couple of master’s degrees and a Doctor of Philosophy. I've taught across all those levels of educational offerings, and I appreciate the education continuum. At Torrens, I like the fact that diploma students can continue their studies and transition into a Bachelor of Nursing degree, and then transition to a master’s degree, if they want to. The opportunities are out there for everybody to continue their education these days.
Kathy’s career took off in the Armed Forces
After a couple of years working as an enrolled nurse, I was recruited into the Nursing Corps of the Australian Army. I rose reasonably quickly to the rank of Sergeant, took part in the army’s medics course, and started to teach. My 18 years in the military gave me wonderful opportunities to expand my skills sets in clinical and critical analyses, as well as coping, decision-making and leadership skills.
The army taught me to practice in an autonomous manner. Often we would work on our own, without medical officers, and as the nursing officer, I would be the first and last port of call. We had to take control in a number of harrowing situations; it really set me up for life.
I also learned to work collaboratively, and this is something I've continued to do throughout my career. Nurses don't work in isolation. We're all part of the team and we work collegially with our medical counterparts across disciplines.
Professor Tori’s research into advanced nursing practice
Nursing philosophy is underpinned by evidence. This means that research plays an important role by adding to the body of nursing knowledge, and by informing nursing practices. My personal research focused on advanced practice nursing roles within the rural and remote area context. Healthcare services in rural communities are often limited due to a lack of infrastructure, a maldistribution of health practitioners, or a multitude of other factors.
In the military, I would often work in the absence of any medical officers. But when I came back into the civilian health domain, I tended to work a lot with medical practitioners. If these practitioners aren’t available, then nurses’ scope of practice is a bit limited. I recognised that there was a void we could fill with the advanced practice role. If nurses can work to the full scope of practice, they can fill that void and provide services to rural communities.
So we put in place the nurse practitioner model, and it's worked extremely well. Now, Nurse Practitioners who have undertaken advanced studies to become Advanced Practice Nurses can assess, diagnose and treat; they can order interventions, such as radiology and pathology; and they can prescribe autonomously. By offering all-round healthcare, they now work in small rural health facilities, in urgent care or emergency departments, as well as in the acute care and the aged care environment.
Nurses: A Voice to Lead – The IND theme for 2022
The theme this year acknowledges that nurses are at the forefront of healthcare. This has been very apparent throughout the pandemic, and I think people now realise the value of nurses.
The call to invest in nurses – using the IND's wording, ‘to secure global health’ – is both timely and necessary. We nurses must continue to have a voice, to make sure that people always recognise what we're capable of. We have the skills, we have the ability, we're educated, and we can do so much. Nurses are more than capable of contributing to all facets of healthcare delivery in any environment, in both collaborative and autonomous roles. But we need to focus on moving Nursing forward as a profession.
Advice for our students
Start now. You're never too old. If nursing is your passion, then grab the opportunities that come along. Whether it's becoming a nurse, upskilling or updating the skill set you already have, retraining, or being re-educated into another area of nursing – keep exploring and learning. That’s what I did and the transition from an Enrolled Nurse to a Registered Nurse and then to a Nurse Practitioner has been a brilliant journey.
The other piece of advice would be to have a mentor. Have somebody who inspires you, leads you, is a critical friend and plays a critical role in helping you to move forward.
Also, be bold, be creative and be who you can be.