August 9, 2019

Carolyn Downing on our Postgraduate Nursing Program

As Operations Director for Specialist Clinics, Carolyn Downing oversees our clinics at both Northern and Broadmeadows Hospital, as well as Craigieburn Centre.

She sees her role as supporting the teams for great patient care, and, with over 200,000 presentations to the clinics, to make sure “we get our patients to the right place at the right time”.

She started at Northern Health as a Registered Nurse in her graduate year in 1998 and soon realised Emergency Department (ED) nursing was her calling.

She completed her Graduate Certificate of Emergency Nursing while working in our ED, and then the Graduate Diploma Nursing Program here. Carolyn has also recently completed her Master’s in Public Health Management.

Over the years, she has seen the community physically grow and watched the complexity of presentations get higher.

“The complexity of our care is that the more our community grows and diversifies, the more services we need to offer, resulting in more patients coming to us for care,” Carolyn says.

She picked Northern for her graduate nursing as, at that time, “it was the only hospital that offered a stint in ED – which was where I wanted to be always, pretty much!”

“I got to meet a lot of the awesome ED nurses and really confirm this is what I wanted to do. I worked really hard to make sure I was welcomed back the year after!”

“At that time, there were only six applicants taken each year and it was a tough battle to get those roles, so it was really great when I got that role and was able to work with Annabel.”

Annabel Milonas is the Clinical Nurse Coordinator who oversees the postgraduate programs across Northern Health.

Carolyn says Annabel essentially taught her the extra knowledge that made her a certified Emergency Nurse.

“Annabel wasn’t just a teacher – she was my mentor in all facets, as all of us were relatively new to nursing and trying to have a life and study AND balance shift work.”

Besides Annabel, Carolyn also points to the senior nurses on the floor as big influences.

Carolyn says that good nurses generally do really well and make good choices, when thrown in the deep end.

“The true gold comes when you actually have the knowledge to back up the instincts that allow you to make and take the next step to being a better nurse – a more well-rounded nurse,” says Carolyn of the Postgraduate Nursing Program.

“It’s knowing why we do what we do, but also understanding that we can always improve.”

“I think that nurses who are attracted to ED, there is something in us that likes that unknown quantity – that every day is going to be different.”

She says her postgraduate education provided a framework to make good risk-based decisions with whatever is in front of her – “knowing that my decisions each day will be different, based on the different scenarios placed in front of me – such as staffing levels and the complexity of the patient.”

Carolyn is unequivocal in her support of the postgraduate certificate program. She says the nurses are really well supported by a wonderful group of educators, in addition to teams on the wards that want them to grow as nurses and be successful.

“Besides, Annabel is still there and continues to be a wonderful teacher and mentor!” adds Carolyn.

Applications for our Postgraduate Nursing Program are open 5 – 25 August 2019. Click here for more information. 

Left to right: Annabel Milonas and Carolyn Downing