Inspirational Feature Nurse: Tony McGillion

Tony McGillion is a super star nurse. With a background in coronary care nursing, Tony gravitated into education from his passion for learning and teaching. He recently spent two years as the Manager of the Nursing and Midwifery Workforce team for the Victorian government and is currently the Associate Professor of Clinical Nursing Practice at La Trobe University. He is also a keen marathon runner, a mentor to many and currently undergoing his Professional Doctorate.

I met Tony for a coffee and asked if he could share some of his wisdom. He reveals how he stays healthy and well, how he overcomes the obstacles he faces within his current role every day, and the biggest attribute he acclaims his success to.

Amy: So Tony, can you tell me what you do each and every day to be healthy and well?

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Tony: Well, I love running. I am currently training for the Melbourne Marathon which consists of 5 runs a week, one long endurance run, one hill session, one interval session and two recovery runs. I am part of a running club so I connect with others on a social level. We like to chat about all different things, like our children, our holidays and anything other than work. This helps me to move on from the stressors of my work day, and to prepare myself for tomorrow. Even on days when I don’t run, I like to get up early around 500am or 530am, so I can get either a run in, or I like to get off the tram a few stops earlier and walk for at least 20 minutes. Sometimes I mix it up with swimming or cycling during the change of season.

Amy: Has there been any major challenges in your career you have had to overcome?

Tony: No major challenges, though I have recognised I do get bored quite easily within a role, and I don’t want to pigeon hole myself into any specific corner. This is why I chose to do my masters in health administration which has supported me to take on roles within the government, leadership, management and also academia. Every 2-3 years, I get itchy feet and need to challenge myself to think outside the square. I like the challenge of constantly problem solving and never knowing how my day is going to eventuate. One challenge I am currently facing is working within an under resourced environment, and also taking on too much and not delegating enough, I can relate to the article about having too many monkeys on my back.

I like solving problems, and what I need to do more of is give people the tools to solve their own problems, so that I can be as “monkey free” as possible.

Amy: Is that so you can run faster? Tony: Absolutely, without the extra weight. Ha ha

What did you most love about your nursing career?

Well I fell into the career, as I was on a gap year from school and I was working as an orderly in a hospital and I got to witness the camaraderie within all the health care professionals and I knew I really wanted to work within this environment. And I have been so lucky to have worked in different countries such as; the UK, Saudi Arabia of course here in Australia and also within so many different cultures, health care systems, and the government. And of course education and academia and I am currently fulfilling my dream of doing my doctorate. The doors that have opened for me through hard work and engagement, I can’t imagine any other career offering me similar opportunities.

Amy: And is that what you would attribute your success too, hard work and engagement?

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Tony: Definitely, I have discovered over the years that your clinical skills and your knowledge mean less than your ability to communicate. Being truly engaged with people and keeping your awareness in the present moment, makes such a big difference to them, and in the way that they perceive you. And also the way that you perceive yourself. So that people want to have you around because of your attitude, and I think that it is through the right attitude that you can obtain anything whether that be in your personal or professional life.

So I really wouldn’t change a thing if I had my time again, I think that nursing is such a varied profession now. There are so many opportunities with the role of nursing, so varied and so enjoyable, so just have fun! And if you’re having fun, your patients will be happy.   

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