At the end of 2020, The Australian College of Nursing (ACN) launched a series of online CPD modules aimed at advancing clinical nurse leadership in the aged care sector. The modules — which can be completed at any time online — individually address the Australian Government’s Aged Care Quality Standards to ensure enrolled and registered nursing staff working in aged care possess the necessary clinical governance to ensure the best possible outcomes for our nation’s vulnerable elderly population. To celebrate the launch of these courses, we caught up with the course’s author and presenter Dr Drew Dwyer, PhD, FACN, MACA, CFJBI, Adjunct Associate Professor UQSoNMSW, to discuss his nursing career, why it is so important for nurses to refresh their skills in aged care and what nurses can expect from the courses.
Meet your presenter: An expert in evidence-based health care
Course presenter and author Dr Drew Dwyer FACN has a reputation for being one of the most dynamic and passionate consultants in learning & development for the health care sector. He draws on 20 years’ experience from both his extensive nursing, military, and academic backgrounds to inform and shape his style of learning & clinical leadership.
Drew began our discussion by sharing his journey through the nursing profession.
“I started nursing through hospital-based training at a geriatric hospital, however, I didn’t finish and joined the army as a nurse,” he said.
“In the military, I studied so many unique areas of nursing and worked in warzones where I was taught a number of skills that weren’t taught in general nursing. When I retired from the military, I returned to Queensland however the board of nursing at the time would not recognise my acquired skills, saying I had to return to university. I was allowed to establish myself as an Enrolled Nurse (EN) and at this time I made the decision to change my professional focus.”
Drew has since gone on to become a highly qualified and regarded expert in the field of evidence-based health care.
“I took up a Bachelor of Applied Science in Psychology and completed a Clinical Fellowship at the Joanna Briggs Institute where I studied evidence-based health care and aged care,” he says.
“I then did a Master’s degree in evidence-based healthcare looking at the clinical leadership of nurses in aged care. From there, I went on to do a PhD in evidence-based health care in developing education courses for both ENs and Registered Nurses (RNs) in aged care settings. My focus was on clinical leadership.”
Aged care CPD Modules: Excellence in clinical governance
Drew also shared with us what students undertaking the aged care CPD Modules can expect from the courses.
“The premise is very much on ensuring nurses hold the necessary knowledge around governance so they can develop their clinical leadership,” Drew says of the modules.
“To achieve this, they need to understand the standards which they are aiming to achieve for which is where the Australian Government’s Aged Care Standards (ACQS) come into play. The ACQS are a single framework which enables a consistent standard to be applied across all domains of the aged sector, regardless of the settings.”
“The CPD modules explain the framework around the Aged Care Standards with each course explaining one of the standards. Student both learn to understand the individual standard and are trained to show how they have met and validated the standard in their workplace. This ensures nurses hold the necessary clinical governance to support their workplace to meet accreditation.” Other CPD courses are focused on the assessment and management of complex care for the elder person.
The Benefits of leadership in aged care nursing
Drew concluded by highlighting how completing the modules enhances the overall job prospects of those working in aged care settings.
“One of the biggest health domains globally is aged care and gerontological nursing will become a very specialised unique frame of nursing,” he says.
“As the world changes and the population ages, healthcare providers are looking more and more for nurses who have solid nursing leadership in gerontology because they will be leading multi-disciplinary teams.
“For nurses who aren’t working in aged care; CPD is going to be focused on clinical assessment on older people and their conditions as well as clinical leadership in practice. This means a lot of what is covered helps general nurses to know more about the aged care system or looking after elderly people.”