CQ University lecturer Dr Kerry Reid-Searl stands over three of the alter egos she created to prepare her nursing students for their foray into the medical world.
CQ University lecturer Dr Kerry Reid-Searl stands over three of the alter egos she created to prepare her nursing students for their foray into the medical world. Chris Ison Rokcmasks

MASK-ED to help nursing students

CQ UNIVERSITY lecturer Dr Kerry Reid-Searl may receive all the accolades, but golden oldie Cyril Smith does all the hard work for her.

The 78-year-old is Dr Reid-Searl's favourite alter ego and the innovative educational resource which has propelled her to an internationally-renowned status as one of Australia's top undergraduate nursing educators.

When she's not lecturing as an associate professor, she is interacting with her nursing students as the retired butcher and grandfather of an imaginary nursing student.

Kitted out in an unbelievably lifelike silicone head, a male torso hidden under blue and white striped pyjamas, a green robe, slippers, glasses the thickness of a magnifying glass, and a grey cotton beanie – she has been mistaken for a real elderly man more than once.

But Dr Reid-Searl explains it is all part of her determination to prepare first-class nurses through “knowledge, realistic and spontaneous simulation”.

“We need as educators to think right outside the box,” Dr Reid-Searl said.

The imaginative professor's other resources include a full male torso, with genitalia for students to practise inserting a urinary catheter, or even injecting needles.

“It captures the students' attention and engages them, it allows them to play and practise in the safety net of the classroom,” she said.

“I can have far more teaching in 10 minutes with that than (an) hour lecturing.”

Dr Reid-Searl also has other creations, a 30-year-old and a 90-year-old.

Trademarked by CQUniversity in 2010 as MASK-ED (KRS simulation), the teaching strategy has unmasked a new world of educational techniques relevant to a wide range of university courses.

Dr Reid-Searl has been invited to showcase her unique creation in keynote addresses locally, nationally and internationally.

And 12 years after the conception of Dr Reid-Searl's first character, Iva Sore, in a fat suit, fake teeth and glasses, MASK-ED is still only in its beginnings.

“We're getting new, more realistic, medically-orientated faces created for us,” she said.

“With heads that can swell and have nose bleeds, and students can manage tracheostomies.”

Initial trials of MASK-ED will occur at Monash University and the University of Newcastle where the technique will be piloted for use at other universities around the country.



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