Debbie Blow, National Achievement Award 2020 – TAFE Queensland

November 2020

For over 20 years Debbie (Deb) Blow has been an outstanding leader in health nursing education and training. Her strength has been to create partnerships and models to respond to shortages in skilled nurses and health workers, and, further improve the practical skills in university graduates and improve the overall quality of training in health and nursing.

As the Director of Faculty for Community Services, Health and Nursing and the Executive Leader Health and Nursing at TAFE Queensland, Deb has focused on forging strong connections with industry to address skills shortages in nursing, health, allied health and primary care.

Deb is always on the lookout for new ways of doing things. For example, to address a nation-wide shortage of nurses and limited access to quality training Deb created Australia’s first online Diploma of Nursing program. This enabled individuals the flexibility to study where and when they could. Giving young mums, career changers and those in in remote areas the opportunity to pursue their dreams. The program is currently delivered to students across Australia.

Deb also led a 12-year industry partnership program with Ramsay Health Care and Greenslopes Private Hospital to address the need for more registered enrolled nurses. She did this by developing an integrated model of learning where students work and study onsite at the hospital. The model is so successful it has also been adopted by St Vincent’s hospitals in Queensland and New South Wales. To date, over 800 students have enrolled in these work integrated programs.

When Griffith University received industry feedback their biomedical science graduates did not have the hands-on skills to work in industry, they asked Deb for advice. Deb addressed the concern by embedding the Certificate III in Pathology, into the Griffith biomedical science degree as an elective unit. Now in its third year, there are more enrolments than places available. Students undertaking many health-related bachelor programs choose to do this program and also seek employment in the industry while completing their degree. The course is highly desired and often fills in minutes of being open. This demonstrates the large demand for this learning, and the model has been replicated across other industries.

Deb’s innovative and successful approach to working with industry and forming partnerships has a profound impact on improving health and nursing education and training in Australia.

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