Monday, December 29, 2008

A huge challenge for me in 2009

Image: Christmas Fun

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:

  1. What is my brand? How do I apply that brand, especially online?
  2. How should I market myself and seek jobs? How do I make myself more 'professional'?
  3. 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?
  4. I know I need to get my own domain, but I'm not sure what to do with it once I have it.
  5. Should I keep blogging about midwifery matters?
  6. Need to update my ePortfolio - do I need to do anything with it, such as make it more 'generic'?
Online midwifery professional development seminars
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?


BetsyK said...

Hi Sarah,

If you don't follow these blogs already, you might get some helpful food for thought at:

They are both marketing guys.

Best of luck with your new path!!!

Betsy in Chicago

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Betsy, thank you so much for your suggestions. I do follow Seth's blog but generally do not pay it much attention-that must change!

I've been thinking that I'll need to change my approach but on the other hand, I do not want to change the essential 'me' because that is what has got me where I am. All good stuff to think about :)

Sarah Stewart said...

I've been thinking about it and think I will try to continue the program of midwifery seminars. A number of people run similar things in different disciplnes that are not necessarily associated with an educational institution, such as @berci ( I've also come across this doula site that offers a similar service:

I have tried WiZiQ, but have heard its good-will look at it in the next few days. Thanks, Pam.

Sarah Stewart said...

Also need to try out adobe connect

Anonymous said...

What a great opportunity, Sarah, congratulations on your appointment. I think the enormous temptation when you work away from home is to fill your time with work.

I think what you have been doing has been wonderful and I would encourage you to continue to develop your work ... its volume and quality exemplify what a prospective employer needs.

For my part in 2009 I think:

1. Make pull technologies work for you (alerts and networks).
2. Use aggregation to integrate your work (I have been looking at Netvibes and Ning).
3. Grow your use of semantic technologies to prepare for even more sharing and stimulating.

I think whatever you do you will succeed ... you have enormous energy and insight. The big challenge will be managing personal relationships and professional contacts in two locations.

Best wishes


classyadele said...

Sarah - I think you should continue blogging in the same style that has made you unique in so many ways - losing or even compromising that would definitely not make you the 'Sarah' we have grown to know (and adore!) by reading your blog entries.

I guess that struggle between autonomy and control in one's personal blog will always be an issue for all us bloggers....myself included. But I always say that my blog is me, and I'm my blog and that's how it is and will always be...and if one's not happy with it - there's always that 'X' button to click!

Have fun in Brisbane - definitely more sun compared to Dunners! heahaha

Sarah Stewart said...

@Keith & @Classyadele, thank you both for your comments which I have taken very much to heart. I have been thinking about what you've both said & think you're right - if I try to change myself. I agree that what has worked & will continue to work is this blog is a place for meeting and sharing with people. Thats what I really enjoy, and what I am convinced is the way for us to go, especially in education and health.

I am looking forward to the sun although I think I'll struggle in the heat initially. And I'm really looking forward to meeting new people. At the same time, I plan to get some serious work done, inclduing finishing off my PhD, I hope :)

Helen said...

Hi Sarah
Congratulations on the job - you will be perfect for the role. It sounds like there will be many challenges and opportunities ahead and I wish you the very best of luck and I look forward to continuing to hear about your adventures.

Anonymous said...

Been meaning to say congratulations for a while now.
Looking forward to this years posts from you!
All the best in 2009
seeing as I'm only about twenty hours in to it, not like you folks, having a days head start! =)

Sarah Stewart said...

hi hbacmam, I've been meaning to say to you: have you hooked up with savvydoula:

She organises free online monthly sessions for doulas to meet up , debrief and share:

InfoMidwife said...

congrats on coming to Aus, mind you Queensland, can't help that. You will have lots of exciting challenges that you will enjoy and have great success with.
I have been pondering the same questions you have for the last year - that is why I made the move to undergraduate teaching (nursing) and still keeping up the midwifery side therefore broadening my expertise - but still searching for that special role for me............
Good luck hope to catch up with you soon.

Sarah Stewart said...

@infomidwife Still gotta write that article. And was thinking, how about submitting a joint abstract to the ACM conference this year?

Unknown said...

Hi Sarah,

Did you know that Aged Care Queensland is an Elluminate customer? Perhaps you could work something out with them to continue to use Elluminate for your midwifery webinars. Here's an article/case study from them:

Hope you can keep on Elluminating!

- Beth, Elluminate Goddess of Communication

Sarah Stewart said...

Hi Beth, yes I did know they use Elluminate-we have been meeting with it.

I have thought that I'd ask to use it but my contract is only for 6 months, and I want to be able to ensure I can access a web conference platform for the whole year.

Thanks for suggestion - that might be an option if all else fails.

Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Sarah, You attracted me into your blog through the mention of e-Portfolios some time ago, and I've been intrigued to follow your progress ever since, along with benefiting from some very useful tips!

On the problems of disconnected family life: Some years ago I was commuting weekly over a period of 4 years and was surprised by the benefits! Instead of taking each other for granted every day I was able to focus on my professional work during the week and save the weekends for doing 'family things'. We found that in actual fact we were spending more time together and our 'quality time' actually improved!

So, Best Wishes for every Blessing,

Ray T.

Sarah Stewart said...

@Ray Thank you so much for your best wishes - I know I am going to really appreciate the support you all give me through this blog, which explemplies one of the great things about blogging.

I will miss my family a lot, but as you say, I am sure there will be advantageous effects that I hadn't accounted for. If nothing else, I am truly grateful to my husband for supporting me to have my little adventure.