Care to Learn Podcast Episode 3: Zoe Youl


Published: 27 August 2018

In this episode of the Care to Learn Podcast Zoe Youl, Nurse Planner and Event Education Manager at Ausmed Education, speaks about transitioning from clinical work to an educator role, how to plan, develop and run a successful educational event and much more...

Podcast Transcript

Wayne: From Ausmed Education, hello and welcome to episode three of the Care to Learn Podcast series. I’m Wayne Woff and each month we sit down with interesting and influential professionals working within healthcare and education.

In this episode we’ll be talking to Zoe Youl, Nurse Planner and Event Education Manager at Ausmed Education. Zoe coordinates the content development for Ausmed’s 300+ nursing and midwifery educational events each year. Zoe is committed to improving the health and lives of all people through the development of effective and meaningful education.

In today’s episode we’ll discuss the transition from clinical work to an educator role and understanding the differing value that is created within each. Zoe will also share some tips on how to run an effective educational event. So, let’s get into it.


Wayne: Zoe, it’s great to have you here for this episode of our Care to Learn Podcast. In keeping with a very common nursing ethos, I think we should dive straight in and get started.

We’ll kick off by allowing you to tell the audience a little bit about your professional journey, your background and how you became a nurse planner.


Zoe: Thanks Wayne, it’s great to be here sitting next to you and having a bit of a chat.

I guess if I think about my professional journey, to begin with I certainly didn’t ever grow up thinking I’d be a nurse planner.

What is a nurse planner? It’s a title that many of us here in Australia are probably not too familiar with, and I wasn’t actually until I entered the role.

But I’ll rewind a little bit and say that my clinical background is in intensive care nursing. I’ve also spent a couple of years working in oncology, haematology and palliative care. I absolutely loved clinical nursing, I still do, and I think it’s a love of clinical nursing and a desire to help people to make a difference that pushes many of us into education.

I moved into this slightly unique, non-clinical nursing role when I finished my critical care degree. Once we were qualified we could then start doing 12-hour shifts. While there’s a lot of literature to suggest they’re not all that, well, there are some challenges associated with them, it worked very well for me because it allowed me to have a little bit more flexibility with the roster and start doing a little bit of work as a nurse planner at Ausmed.

I’m now full-time in the role and I consider myself to have transitioned fully from a clinical role to a non-clinical nursing role.

But coming back to what a nurse planner is, as a nurse planner and the Event Education Manager I plan, coordinate and evaluate the event education that Ausmed provides.

The actual terminology of a nurse planner is derived from Ausmed’s affiliation with the ANCC, the American Nurses’ Credentialing Centre’s Commission on Education.

We’ve been fortunate enough to have this connection with the ANCC for a number of years now. And that connection stems from part of our online education, our video learning centre, being accredited, with distinction actually, for the last couple of cycles which is a remarkable achievement.

What that means, if people are familiar with a magnet hospital, it’s the same standard, so a very high standard for developing, implementing and coordinating education. A lot of what I’ve been able to learn and the professional development that I’ve engaged in to support my transition from quite a traditional clinical role in intensive care, to quite a unique non-clinical nursing education role has come from this affiliation with the ANCC.


Wayne: You just mentioned it there Zoe, would you speak to the audience and explain a little more of that challenge that you faced moving from a clinical role as you described, into the role of a nurse planner. In a clinical role, it’s very clear the brief, the person, the team you’re working with, the clinical outcomes that you want to achieve. But making that transition and maybe putting on a different set of glasses in terms of how you view your new role, I think would be of great interest to our audience.


Zoe: I think the number one thing that comes to mind that I briefly touched on is that there’s significant amounts of professional development that can support any nurse transitioning to a different role.

Something that has I think been the most difficult is in terms of measuring value and measuring the impact. Impact, I think is an interesting word, and it was certainly behind, or partly behind, the decision for me to transition to a non-clinical role.

It may be something that other nurse educators listening also share, but I knew that when I was working in intensive care for 12 hours per day, I absolutely could have an impact on that one patient and on their family. They’re experiencing significant challenges physically and emotionally and in their whole context of being.

If you do the maths, if you look after three patients per week, 50 weeks per year, it’s roughly 150 people that you can impact, which is significant. In an education setting though, that’s a little bit harder.

The impact that I feel I have now, is that I’m helping hundreds, thousands, potentially tens of thousands of patients, but in a different way.


Wayne: Just to follow up your comment there, it would be fair to say that there was a degree of attractiveness about having that bigger ripple affect amongst the profession that you’re so passionate about?


Zoe: I think you’re right, absolutely. I now consider that I have a very different impact on the profession.

My role from behind the scenes is to plan, coordinate, schedule, identify educational needs, ensure the education has integrity and of course to evaluate the education that many nurses are able to experience. The goal is to ensure those nurses are in a position to improve the care that they provide.

It has been a challenge to shift that; from seeing absolutely the impact that you have on one person or a handful of people over a shift or a couple of shifts, to a different impact. There are definite ways to measure value in education, which is something that we’re continually striving to improve and to do research on, here at Ausmed.

I think probably when I started I focussed a lot on attendance. You’d get a dopamine rush or a shot of serotonin when you saw numbers for events go up, but through my own professional development, through the wisdom that I’ve been fortunate enough to experience from those around me here at Ausmed, but also through attending events and things like that, is that attendance is just one number. It obviously matters – educators have KPIs that they have to hit – but the real value is in measuring the impact of that education.


Wayne: So just going back to really drilling into that nurse planning role and looking at yourself with the blank piece of paper, and then saying: ‘from an educational perspective, what does a great event look like?’ How do you build something from ground zero to being what you consider that you’ll be pleased with? Maybe describe for the audience what you think a great event looks like.


Zoe: Step one is asking ourselves: what’s the need for this education? We do a needs assessment for all our events which we put down into five steps:

  1. What’s the problem?
  2. Why does the problem exist?
  3. So, what? What are we going to do to close or narrow the gap?
  4. How will we know if it’s successful?
  5. How will we measure the effectiveness of that event?

As I said, the role of a nurse planner is to identify a need for an event and develop content for that event. Once I understand that there’s a need, I’ll work with presenters to develop the educational content. I’ll engage presenters who are content experts in their chosen field and ensure that they’re the most suitably qualified person to present on that topic.

I’m very strong and very cautious when it comes to ensuring there’s no commercial bias or conflict of interest. Once we have engaged content experts, once we’ve developed content, we go through a very rigorous content integrity process.

The nature of events is that things always pop up, so there’s a bit of trouble shooting. Then there’s the actual event. And most significantly is evaluating that event afterwards, which feeds right back into our needs assessment.


Wayne: You’ve touched on some of the questions I was going to ask about rigour and about quality; obviously content integrity is a high order issue for you. Anything else in terms of the rigour and ensuring that the content of the event is of the highest quality possible?


Zoe: It really does come back to that needs assessment. You cannot run an event if there’s no need. And you can’t support a need for an event if there’s no literature or evidence supporting that need.

Ethics underpins all that we do. When there’s so much information out there, it’s up to us as educators of people working in nursing education positions to actually safeguard that knowledge, and to ensure that it’s not just information that we’re teaching, it’s not just information that people are receiving, it’s learning that’s happening. I think when that comes from an ethical base, that is absolutely ensured. We’re gatekeepers in a sense. For me, my values and the values at Ausmed as being a highly ethical company, ethics underpins all that you do.


Wayne: And in terms of the pep talk to your presenters, the educators, the people who make up the program and deliver that high-quality information, what are some of the things that you might talk to them about in terms of their responsibility to deliver the goods?


Zoe: What I want to try and do is understand the scope of practice that that person works to. Once I understand that, I can envision how that knowledge and how their expertise fits in to the whole program.

The type of conversation that I have is around the entire program. I try and communicate what it is that we’re trying to achieve, what the outcomes are that we’re looking for.

Obviously, things like the target audience, the other content that’s being presented is important, but I try and match that person’s scope of practice with the content, with the topic that we’re developing, and say to them: what is it that will really give you the opportunity to grow professionally, while you’re also providing the opportunity for others to grow and learn.

If we get to that sweet spot, where we’ve got a presenter who is an expert in a particular field, who’s really motivated and interested in a particular topic, they will then deliver a great session on the day. We get into trouble when you’ve got the wrong person, on the wrong bus, at the wrong time, for the wrong reason.


Wayne: Do you council or do you speak to your presenters much about delivery styles?


Zoe: Absolutely. Because we have different event formats, from highly interactive workshop-type events like seminars, right through to national events like conferences where it is slightly more fast-paced and didactic, you can really work to people’s strengths.

It comes back to that person’s scope of practice and that need. There’s a need for highly interactive sessions at certain points and there’s a need for an evidence-based update on a particular topic.

But absolutely my role is to work to people’s strengths. I want that person to feel comfortable, because when they feel comfortable they are going to provide the best outcome to the people who are experiencing the education.

Sometimes it will be a matter of saying: ‘this is a 30-minute session, we need your best update on a particular topic’. And other times it will be: ‘this is a session after lunch; what we know is that this session really needs a dynamic and highly engaging speaker to really bring that audience together’.

We also look at what needs to happen after an event. What we know is that after an event there are significant barriers that might prohibit that knowledge from being translated. So increasingly, what we’re also trying to improve is how we support learners after the event.

The time at an event is an incredibly fertile time, it’s a rich time where a lot of knowledge is being transferred. But afterwards, how do we continue that transference and how to we ensure that that knowledge is practical, that it’s applied, that it then gets to that patient. How do we make sure that that knowledge doesn’t drop off too much and actually gets translated into practice? This is our big area of focus for the moment.


Wayne: As we begin to get into the concluding section of the podcast today, what do you believe is the role of education in the personal and professional growth of a nurse?


Zoe: I think it’s essential, there’s no doubt, and there’s a lot of literature to support that. But my personal view is that it’s essential only if it’s effective.

It really comes down to asking: is this a nice to know, or is this a need to know article, lecture or event that I’m attending? And so, what? So, what that I can go to an event, that I can read an article and then list describe, outline four different facts about three particular things? How do we make sure that the education and the knowledge that we’re gaining can be applied to the group that we’re serving? That’s what effective education is.


Wayne: Would you agree with the assertion that for an individual nurse there needs to be a high degree of honesty in terms of the way they go about making judgements about educational needs and what they pursue? That that degree of professional honesty is hugely important?


Zoe: Of course, absolutely. Like nurse educators and the process that they would go through when they’re conducting a needs assessment, when an individual is looking at what education is going to be most relevant to them, it comes down to their context of practice.


Wayne: Thanks again for coming down today, Zoe. We’ll finish with three final brief questions: what’s one thing you’ve learnt in the past month that has really stuck with you?


Zoe: I was fortunate enough to head up to Shepparton a month or so ago and hear from a local paediatrician who is working with disadvantaged youths who have experienced a significant amount of trauma from the period which is known to be incredibly important for neurodevelopment.

This paediatrician provided some incredible wisdom around trauma-informed care and the ability for play as an intervention to be somewhat of an antidote to trauma.

I found that incredibly interesting, and something that I’m hoping to incorporate into some of our events in the future.


Wayne: What’s your favourite personal learning tip?


Zoe: My personal learning tip would be: never stop learning.


Wayne: And finally, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received about CPD and continuous learning throughout your career?


Zoe: It was a piece of advice that was given to me during my time in intensive care while completing my postgraduate certificate which was: you learn to teach.


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Zoe Youl View profile

Zoe Youl is a Critical Care Registered Nurse with over 10 years of experience at Ausmed, currently as Head of Community. With expertise in critical care nursing, clinical governance, education and nursing professional development, she has built an in-depth understanding of the educational and regulatory needs of the Australian healthcare sector.

As the Accredited Provider Program Director (AP-PD) of the Ausmed Education Learning Centre, she maintains and applies accreditation frameworks in software and education.
In 2024, Zoe lead the Ausmed Education Learning Centre to achieve Accreditation with Distinction for the fourth consecutive cycle with the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s (ANCC) Commission on Accreditation. The AELC is the only Australian provider of nursing continuing professional development to receive this prestigious recognition.

Zoe holds a Master's in Nursing Management and Leadership, and her professional interests focus on evaluating the translation of continuing professional development into practice to improve learner and healthcare consumer outcomes. From 2019-2022, Zoe provided an international perspective to the workgroup established to publish the fourth edition of Nursing Professional Development Scope & Standards of Practice. Zoe was invited to be a peer reviewer for the 6th edition of the Core Curriculum for Nursing Professional Development.