Alanna Geary is the Executive Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services for Metro North Hospital and Health Service. With oversight of a nursing and midwifery staff of 8,500 people, it’s a varied and challenging role, and Alanna wouldn’t have it any other way.
When Alanna first began working as a nurse, she was fulfilling a dream she’d had since she was a child, following in the footsteps of her grandmother before her.
“I remember walking around the house wearing my grandmother’s nurses cap thinking how wonderful it would be to wear one all the time,” she recalls.
“My parents were both very successful school teachers, so growing up, education was a key focus in my household and while I was never a particularly academic student, it was always assumed that I would end up working in a career where a university or academic qualification was necessary.
“In the 1980s, the only way to become a nurse was through hospital-based training, and my parents we very supportive of me going into Gympie General Hospital for my training.
“Later, I also went on to complete my midwifery training, and since then I’ve worked both as a nurse and a midwife. I have always taken every opportunity for further training, so in 1994 I completed a Bachelor of Nursing, and in 2001 I studied with Griffith to obtain my Master of Health Science in Infection Control, which is now known as the Master of Infection Prevention and Control.”
This varied career has seen Alanna fill many different roles, from nursing roles in units such as Neurosurgical Intensive Care and Renal Dialysis to infection control projects with Queensland Health, and she’s thankful to have had the opportunity to try so many different things throughout her career.
“I loved being a bedside nurse and then midwife. But even now in my executive role, I love what I do,” she says.
“I inform clinical care and provide oversight and strategy for the most amazing professions in the world. Nurses and Midwives are the heartbeat of health and in 2020 in the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, COVID-19 or not, I am so grateful that I do what I do.
“I have never once in nearly 40 years ever regretted my decision. I am truly the luckiest nurse/midwife on the planet!”
Alanna says her reason for choosing Griffith for her Masters program was quite simple: it was a flexible program she could complete in a relatively short time.
“The university had a stellar reputation and at the time of my degree I worked full time, studied full time and had 6-year-old twins,” she says.
“The university was considerate of my needs, provided appropriate feedback and support and even in 2001 was flexible enough to ensure that I could complete me degree at the pace which I needed to work at.
“I am the type of person that needs to work hard and fast. Procrastination is my middle name so making the decision to push myself to do full time study and work full time enabled me to move quickly and do my Masters in as short a time frame as possible.
“While my role now is not specific to Infection Control you would be surprised how many times in the last 20 or so years that I have drawn on that knowledge base. The fact that my last subject was a research one has meant that I have a strong appreciation of research and the requirements for health research. It gave me basic statistical skills and a strong appreciation of the role of evidence-based research as the grounding for excellent clinical care.”
Alanna’s advice to anyone considering study at either the undergraduate or post-graduate level is to take every opportunity that’s placed in front of you.
“Never say no, even if you are terrified of what is being asked, and actively seek opportunities if they are not offered,” she says.
“Never be afraid to ask a question, seek advice or find support. I chose nursing and midwifery, but regardless of what you choose, own your choices. Never admit defeat but own up to your indiscretions or your failings: we all have them, and you can use them to make a better you.
“And finally, make your own path – it’s your journey. Remember to take the people you trust on that journey with you to provide guidance advice and sound counsel.
“I am forever grateful to so many individuals and to Griffith University for all that they have done by way of contribution to my career.”
If like Alanna, you’d like to build on your nursing and midwifery career with post-graduate study, find out more about the Master of Infection Prevention and Control and the Master of Primary Maternity Care.