September 8, 2023

Get to know: Tony McGillion


Meet Tony McGillion, Divisional Director, Education and Training.

Q: Tell me about your career before you started at Northern Health earlier this year?

A: Gosh, at my age that could take a while! I trained as a Registered Nurse in the UK in 1985 then spent a couple of years working in Saudi Arabia, where I gained a great perspective on working and living with different cultures. I arrived in Melbourne in 1989 with one suitcase. I knew nobody but had a sense of adventure – fortunately I had a job and a Visa! I did my Critical Care Course at PANCH then specialised in the area of cardiothoracics for a few years across both public and private healthcare.

I furthered my education by doing an education degree then a Master of Health Administration. I also worked in education leadership roles for a few years including Clinical Nursing Education at both Cabrini Health and Austin Health. In 2015, I was seconded to the Department of Health and Human Services as a Senior Policy Advisor for Nursing and Midwifery Education and led the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce team.

At the end of this secondment, I went to La Trobe University as Associate Professor of Nursing, where I co-ordinated undergraduate research subjects and postgraduate leadership and management. I was also the Academic Program Coordinator for our Singapore transition degree program and led the La Trobe University/Melbourne Health Clinical School. I was lucky enough to have a number of research projects published during this time, including those focused on interprofessional education, occupational violence and aggression and the assistant nursing and midwifery workforce.

In 2021, I joined Western Health as Director of Nursing and Midwifery with the portfolio of ‘innovation’ and ‘leadership development’. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to join Northern Health as the inaugural Divisional Director of Education and Training. I have retained Adjunct Associate Professor roles at La Trobe University (School of Public Health & Psychology) and the University of Melbourne and volunteer my time after hours as the Victorian Chair for the Australian College of Nursing, a role that includes mentoring emerging nurse leaders nationally.

Q: You are our new Divisional Director Education – what does the job entail?

A: Many things but initially establishing the new division and the various supporting systems and processes as well as implementing and evaluating our Education & Training Strategic Plan. I believe that education is omnipresent and people will learn best when enabled to do so. We are all here to safely care for patients and consumers/clients and we do this as a very large team.

However, we tend to historically encourage learning in ‘separate siloes’ – the new division is an opportunity for greater collaboration using best practice educational principles. I see a large part of my role as supporting lifelong learning at all stages of professional and vocational careers, ensuring that education and training are front-loaded into key projects and priorities. My job also entails role-modelling the key elements of integrity, approachability and transparency and living the Northern Health values and providing advice to all staff to benefit their knowledge and skills.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your new role?

A: Getting to know people and getting out to all the other Northern Health campuses has been fantastic. You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression and I see myself as an ambassador for ensuring our values are lived. There are many present and future challenges that education and training are part of and it is these ‘challenges’ that fuel my every day.

Q: If you could describe Northern Health in a sentence, what would it be?

A: Northern Health is both understated and unpretentious – this is shown by simple things such as our name badges and logo.

Q: What has been your greatest achievement in life?

A: I would like to discuss both a professional and personal achievements. Professionally, I had the opportunity in 2017, to teach at Sichuan University in China for four weeks. My challenge was to talk about leadership using an interpreter whilst being culturally aware. This was an amazing opportunity and my reflections of this four-week period will also be positive. Personally, raising two very well-rounded boys to become men that I am proud of has been a significant achievement.