Supporting Staff who Support Students Eleanor Flynn , Wendy Hu

Supporting Staff who
Support Students
Eleanor Flynn1, Wendy Hu2, Robyn Woodward-Kron1
of Medicine, University of Western Sydney
1Melbourne Medical School, University of Melbourne
Acknowledgements: ANZAHPE & ACEN Research Grants
Workshop Overview
• Background
• Training resources for professional, academic
and clinical staff who support students
– Video triggers to foster peer support
– A critical incident response flowchart
• A note:
– Scenarios based on aggregated real life stories
– Discuss what you are comfortable discussing,
but please keep it private
Why is supporting staff important?
• Unique stressors1-2 faced by medical & health
professional students
• Community expectation to provide academic &
pastoral support to students
• Distance from on-campus services and staff training
Student concerns presenting to staff
Scheduling, procedures, paperwork
Study, progress and assessments
Isolation, specific placement issues
Relationships: peers, staff and family
Financial and employment pressures
Mental health and substance abuse
Accidents and deaths: suicide, lifethreatening illnesses
Increasing level of concern
What are the effects of dealing
with student concerns on you,
or on your staff?
Discussion Activity
5 minutes – Think-Pair-Share
Research findings – Impact on Staff of
Supporting Students in Distress
• ‘Emotional labour’ work not acknowledged
• Tensions between
– Formal roles, and desire to help students
– Being approachable, and keeping professional
– Maintaining privacy, and documenting concerns
– Feeling responsible, but ineffectual
• Need for staff support and training
Training & Support Recommendations
• Orientation, role clarification
• Management of workload,
formal recognition
• Clearer communication:
when to refer and to whom,
what to document
• Peer support: informal
• Self care, boundary setting
• Skills training e.g. Mental
Health First Aid
• Information about local
referral and support
• Information about policies
and procedures
• Critical incident flowchart
and checklist
• Training resource with
video simulations
When students disclose:
How should I respond?
Discussion Activity
30 minutes – Video scenarios
A Scenario
A student comes to you in the office with
a timetabling request….
Questions to consider:
• What happens in the video scenario?
• What issues does the scenario raise about
staff roles and responsibilities?
• How should staff respond to this scenario?
A Scenario
An administrative officer approaches a
supervisor with concerns….
Questions to consider:
• What happens in the video scenario?
• What issues does the scenario raise about
roles and responsibilities?
• What should be done?
Summing up…
When the unexpected happens:
Developing a response flowchart
Discussion Activity
30 minutes
Types of student concerns
• Usual Staff-Student interactions
Student request Staff response (check policy)
Referral  Documentation  Follow-up
• Critical incident – a definition5,6
– Traumatic and serious event
– Extreme physical and/or emotional distress
– Outside normal range of experience
 Imbalance between usual staff capacity and
resources, and the needs of affected person(s)
What are examples of critical or
urgent student concerns?
Discussion Activity
5 minutes – Think-Pair-Share
Developing a flowchart
Critical, Urgent or
When to refer on?
To whom?
Who needs to
know? When?
What are the
relevant policies?
What follow-up
is needed?
What resources
are available?
What to document,
and how?
Summing up…
Circulate information about
support services
Where to from here?
Develop a “standard”
referral pathway
Disseminate an incident
response pathway
Staff orientation and training
How will you use the workshop resources?
Further information
Eleanor Flynn [email protected]
Wendy Hu [email protected]
Robyn Woodward-Kron [email protected]