How a group of Clinical Nurse Educators regrouped to become leaders of flexibility and resilience in professional development promoting a sustainable and supported workforce

Julie Porter1, Sam Turnbull1

1Tasmanian Health Service – Community Mental Health, , Australia


Clinical Nurse Educators (CNE’s) lead and effect change through professional development and workplace partnerships within an applied framework of learning in the clinical space.

What We Did:

During COVID-19, Nursing and allied health educators took the initiative to regroup, sharing their specialist skills whilst remaining as a core educator in their own primary area of practice. More senior CNE’s supported those educators developing in the field; all supported clinicians providing direct care thereby promoting mental health as a specialist area of practice.

We used the Deming Cycle (Plan, Act, Review, Improve) to continually evaluate the scope and content of projects; whilst examining attitudes and changes within the workplace to provide evidence of effectiveness (and/or room for improvement) as a practice development tool.

Outcomes: measured outcomes analysed attendance at professional development sessions and implications for practice. For example, Mandatory Training was examined in the context of COVID-19, training included ongoing discussions about readiness and ability to cope with the pandemic in the mental health setting should the need arise from a Mental Health perspective.

Contribution to knowledge: This paper demonstrates how a change process with a need for increased flexibility and resilience enabled collaboration amongst a group of senior educators to promote a sustainable and skilled mental health nursing workforce for the future with a passion for mental health nursing..

The group as a collective promoted flexibility, creativity and adaptivity. Leadership in self-management and ways of building resilience was embedded in the process to promote future sustainability for individual clinicians.


Julie is a Credentialed Mental Health Nurse and Clinical Nurse Educator with the Tasmanian Health Service. Originally from New Zealand, Julie has had a variety of roles at all levels of nursing, including as a clinical nurse and in management and education. She is passionate about progressing mental health in all areas of practice with a strong belief in collaboration and recognising the work that Mental Health Nurses do.

Opportunities for learning are important and have included areas of tropical medicine, adult education, and rural and remote mental health. She has recently commenced a PhD at James Cook University with the title “An Exploration of the Role of Community and Recreational Activities on Mental Health to Frame a Model of Connectedness and Social Resilience in Tasmania”.

Sam is a mental health nurse with over 25 years’ experience working in a variety of locations (UK, WA, Tas) and settings (CAMHS, Adult Acute and Forensics). Having worked primarily in CAMHS, over the past 10 years she has moved into other roles and environments, not only to broaden her experiences and areas of expertise, but to take on opportunities to strengthen her personal ethos and practice.

For the past 5 years Sam has been both a Clinical Nurse Consultant in Occupational Violence and Aggression and a Mental Health Clinical Nurse Educator. Sam seeks opportunities to strengthen the workforce through knowledge and through practical application of skills. She has learnt over the duration of her career that relationships assist in breaking down the barriers (real or perceived) that exist. Sam has a “can do” attitude and works hard to be a positive role model to the people she works with.