Midwife Kate Cheney joined the Council in 2014. In this interview, she shares what has surprised her about working in regulation and her view on the biggest challenges facing nurses and midwives at work.
How did you become interested in joining the Council?
In 2014, I saw an expression of interest for nurses and midwives to put their name forward to be on the Council. I was undertaking my PhD and I was looking for a way to extend and develop myself professionally, outside the clinical environment. I also wanted to know more about the Council, regulation and what is expected of us professionally.
What do you most enjoy about the role? What have you found surprising or what has been different than you expected?
It took me a while to fully understand my role. “Protecting the public” is a simple phrase but there is a lot involved in getting it right.
I enjoy using my clinical experience when assessing notifications as I feel I bring an understanding of the clinical environment. I see the opportunities to get out to all the care environments to talk about the standards and what we do, in a way that is relevant, but sometimes also confronting. There are so many environments in which nurses and midwives practice, so understanding them is important.
Something I hadn’t expected was how often a notification is closed with no further action. About 40% of notifications are closed after initial assessment because the Council and the Health Care Complaints Commission have determined there is minimal ongoing risk to the public.
Sometimes the system doesn’t seem agile as we must adhere to National Law. We understand that the notification process can be extremely stressful for practitioners and complainants because the process can seem confusing and it can take a long time. However I have been pleased to discover in my role as a Council member that the process is designed to be transparent and fair.
If you would like to make a difference to your profession, I would encourage you to put up your hand and get involved!
Tell us about your career in nursing and midwifery. What do you like the best? What do you find most challenging?
I am one of those nurses and midwives who was hospital trained, then went to university to study both nursing and midwifery again. I am currently the CMC for early pregnancy in a large Sydney teaching hospital. I provide clinical and emotional care and support to women who present with pain or bleeding in early pregnancy. I provide expert midwifery and nursing care and support to hemodynamically unstable and stable women in this environment, playing a major role in prioritisation, assessment and management planning.
The things I like best are the people I care for, in sometimes sad and challenging circumstances. The women attending the Emergency Department are given specialist care and planning (by a midwife/nurse) and a supportive ED team. I really love the teams I work with. I have an opportunity to learn about conditions and illnesses from others but also I am able to show that midwives and nurses are professional and capable.
Most challenging? I feel like we are expected to know and do more in a rapidly changing clinical environment, a challenge probably understood by all of you reading this!
It can be challenging to find ways to incorporate the professions' standards into everyday work. What is your view on this, and how we can achieve it?
I think the first step is to be familiar with the standards and feel comfortable that you know what they are and what they mean in your particular setting. I have been able to use the professional standards when developing or assessing policy and working with nurses, midwives, medical staff and others. They are important professional nursing and midwifery values that serve as a framework for professional practice and evaluation. The standards are fundamental professional values that help unify the profession and demonstrate the value of nursing and midwifery to ourselves and to others.
What is life like for you in your free time?
Well you might laugh, but I am the Chair of Croquet NSW and I’m learning to play Association Croquet. Apart from this, I love reading, cooking, and my daughter lives in Melbourne so we travel there a bit. Turning off from ‘work’.
Do you have any advice or favourite words of wisdom for our readers?
Words: Michelle Obama said it well, go high, not low.
Advice: Be a member of a professional organisation.
Wisdom: Look after yourself too.