Staff spotlight: When teaching comes alive

Published: Monday 6th July 2015


Maternity and Neonatal Nursing Lecturer Jane Allnutt from the Faculty of Health Science has just returned from a 17-day study tour to Vanuatu where she supervised students undergoing practical field work.

The tour covers community primary health care in Vila Central Hospital for one week and then another week working in an outreach clinic in North Efate.

“I enjoy seeing the students in the clinical settings as they develop their nursing skills and knowledge, applying classroom theory in practice. “Watching as they “join the dots”  and realization dawns for them, is really rewarding,” Jane said.

“There is not a week that goes by during semester when I don’t learn something from the students. I am constantly surprised by this: it helps me stay current and it helps to give the theory, which is sometimes dry, a human face.”

Jane’s transition to ACU lecturer began when she was working in patient education on the dialysis ward at Sydney hospital and was approached to become involved in nursing education.

 “I wanted to be able to influence the development of nurses at the beginning of their careers. In the old nurse training programs (pre-university), nurses were technically competent but did not always know why they did what they did, or why what they did worked.

“I had a keen interest in science and the explanations about the principles behind nursing actions. Teaching nursing gave me the opportunity to help students understand the principles behind the practice.”

Jane enjoys her job because of the day-to-day variety and the great group of people she works with.

“That is not to say there aren’t challenges…and I really appreciate them for what they teach me personally about my own resilience and creativity and professionally when I am able to navigate a solution.

“I am interested in developing new methods of teaching and bringing nursing theory to life.”

Jane said the key to good teaching is a mix of innovation, inspiration, involvement and interaction.

“I like to find different ways to present my teaching materials to make it come alive and real for the students… and I love it when students actively interact with me in the classroom so that I can see how they are understanding and learning about the topic of the day.

“I am passionate about raising student’s interests in the content, and making it real for them. I aspire to forge connections between old and new knowledge for the students, and for myself.

Jane tries to do this by bringing real life case scenarios into the tutorials to explore, with the students, the many dimensions of healthcare delivery.  

“The other aspect that makes for great teaching is a willingness to listen to the students, and a flexibility to modify the lesson plan, to be responsive to the needs of the students,” Jane said.