From humble beginnings to Order of Australia, our 'masked educator' grateful for recognition

Published:10 June 2019

CQUniversity's Deputy Dean of Simulation in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences, Professor Kerry Reid-Searl has been recognised as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her significant service to nurse education.

Professor Kerry Reid-Searl may be CQUniversity’s Deputy Dean of Simulation in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences but her career achievements have actually been very real and very impressive. Many would consider them a huge feat.

Her significant service to nurse education has been recognised with her appointment as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division), as part of the Queen’s Birthday 2019 Honours List.

Professor Reid-Searl said she was grateful to be awarded such an accolade, given that she had worked with so many other individuals worthy of this recognition.

“As much as this is my award, I’d also like to dedicate it to the people who have worked with me and supported me throughout my entire career, thus far,” she said.

“Apart from having three wonderful children, this has to be the most significant accolade I have ever received – and for that, I’m grateful.”

Interestingly, Professor Reid-Searl never wanted to be a nurse, but instead embarked on an art career. However, as a result of various challenges, her career pathway changed.

Driven by her mother’s support and belief, Professor Reid-Searl followed in the footsteps of her twin sister, Jo, and applied to study nursing which, unbeknown to her, led to a very fulfilling and purposeful career.

“After securing my nursing qualification, I started working as a Remote Area Nurse up in the Torres Strait, where my passion for learning and teaching began,’ Professor Reid-Searl said.

“It wasn’t long before I applied with CQUniversity in 1990, and soon after started my role as Associate Lecturer, where I educated the first-ever cohort of Central Queensland Bachelor of Nursing students.

“Surprisingly, the more my career progressed, the more it became apparent that my passion for art and creativity was hugely embedded in everything I did.”

Twenty-nine years later and Professor Reid-Searl is now the driving force behind the University’s world-renowned Mask-EdTM (KRS Simulation), Pup-Ed and Tag Team Patient Safety Simulation (TTPSS) programs.

Mask-EdTM (KRS Simulation) is a high-fidelity simulation technique which involves the use of silicone props, including masks, torsos, hands, and feet; Pup-Ed, an extension of Mask-EdTM (KRS Simulation), uses silicone procedural puppets in paediatric care settings, and TTPSS was developed to overcome the challenges associated with providing meaningful and engaging patient safety simulations to large groups of learners.

“These programs have allowed me the opportunity to have some level of input into education globally, which has been huge. I sometimes pinch myself when I see someone request a workshop in another country,” Professor Reid-Searl said.

“The future of Mask-EdTM (KRS Simulation) has huge potential. It will continue to live beyond me so long as we have the people who believe in it and are passionate about the pedagogy that sits behind it.”

In addition to simulation, Professor Reid-Searl has also been instrumental in the development of the Clinical Survival Guide series, published by Pearson Australia.

“This series soon became a huge seller for Pearson Australia and opened the door for nursing education publications. I now contribute to the company’s medical and surgical, and fundamental textbooks,” Professor Reid-Searl said.

Despite all that she has achieved in her career, Professor Reid-Searl said her biggest satisfaction was witnessing her students walked across the stage at graduation.

“I always get that warm and fuzzy feeling when I see my students graduate because I know that in some way I’ve contributed to their academic journey through my learning and teaching techniques,” she said.

“I do a job that I love doing, and I’m in a place where the whole concept of daring to be different in embraced. This is a message that I’ve lived by for many, many years, and something I encourage my students to entwine into their academic journey.”

It’s easy to see why two of Professor Reid-Searl’s three children have taken up nursing professions.

“There’s just something about nursing. You’re able to potentially make someone’s day, and comfort them in their most vulnerable moments,” she said.

“Yes, technical skills are really important, but empathy, communication and an appreciation of peoples’ vulnerabilities is something I’ve been able to model to my children.

“The direction you can take in nursing nowadays is huge. I think my children have seen the international opportunities and the fact that women can achieve whatever they want to achieve.”

Professor Reid-Searl will officially receive the honour at an investiture ceremony in October this year, in front of close family.

To learn more about Professor Kerry Reid-Searl, watch