I have always been interested in how health professionals learn and develop in the work setting, and being a midwifery educator I have kept my ponderings on these matters very much in the midwifery context.
But over the last 18 months as I have become familiar with the concept of 'web 2.0' and have grown my own personal learning network, I have begun to consider how the issues of life-long learning, professional development, recruitment and retention affect the health professions in general. For example, my PhD research is looking at how e-mentoring can be applied to allied health workers.
Moving out of midwifery and into health
I have just accepted a six month contract working for Aged Care Queensland in Brisbane where I am to project manage the implementation and evaluation of an e-mentoring scheme. ACQI is a non-profit organization that is an umbrella association whose members provide community care and residential accommodation to disabled and elderly people in Queensland. My new job is due to start at the end of January 2009.
I will be based in Brisbane for the next six months but will be commuting back and forth as my family will be staying in New Zealand. I don't think this set up will be much fun for my husband, but I am planning to be back in New Zealand at least one week out of four, and he will come and visit me in Brisbane. I believe that this sort of arrangement and eCommuting will become more and more attractive as people look for flexible working practices. It will certainly give us the opportunity to test how good Skype, Twitter and so on, really is.
I will also continue leading the SLENZ birth unit project which is another reason why I need to keep coming back to New Zealand.
Looking at the future
This is a wonderful opportunity for me to spread my wings outside of midwifery and one that I am very excited about. Nevertheless, in six months I may be unemployed, so I need to start thinking ahead about how I am going to market myslef for future employment. I do not necessarily want to go back into midwifery education but would rather continue my work managing projects that involve life-long learning etc in generic health contexts. I also want to stay in a position where I have access to support for research into e-learning etc.
Things to think about:
- What is my brand? How do I apply that brand, especially online?
- How should I market myself and seek jobs? How do I make myself more 'professional'?
- How this blog will look? Should it continue as 'Sarah's Musings' or become something else? Should I start a completely different blog, and if so, what should it contain?
- I know I need to get my own domain, but I'm not sure what to do with it once I have it.
- Should I keep blogging about midwifery matters?
- Need to update my ePortfolio - do I need to do anything with it, such as make it more 'generic'?
The other thing I need to think about is the program of online midwifery seminars I have been facilitating. Now that I am no longer affiliated with an educational institution and no longer have access to Elluminate, should I continue to run the program? Or should I try to make it more generic? And what software should I use?
Food for thought
Lots of things to think about and address in the next few weeks. And I would really appreciate your feedback on any of these topics and questions I have raised.
Have a look at Tony Karrer's blog for other people's challenges in 2009. What are yours?