Connected Conversations | Andrea Davila

Andrea Davila’s passion for health care stemmed from childhood visits to clinical environments. After almost a decade’s career as a registered nurse, Andrea has now taken up the role of Simulation Coordinator and nursing academic in the Adelaide Health Simulation. Between teaching, running assessments, and industry outreach, Andrea balances her life with her love of cooking, pranks, and a good cup of coffee.

Andrea Davila

Please tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My name is Andrea Davila (née Hellmanns), and I’m a registered nurse. I worked as a Clinical Nurse in the Emergency Department (ED) at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH) for nine years before changing professional direction and becoming a Simulation Coordinator in the Adelaide Health Simulation (AHS) at the University of Adelaide. After my undergraduate studies, I completed a Graduate Diploma in Nursing Science (Emergency Nursing) at the University of Adelaide in 2016. 

In general, I am quite resilient and motivated — also very easy-going and quite the prankster! I believe this comes from my experiences as a Critical/Acute Care Nurse, often dealing with unpredictable circumstances and the reality that life is short and precious. I am grateful for my health and wellbeing, as well as my family and friends and I avoid taking life for granted. I believe in balance and often strive to achieve this in work and life. The scales often tip — that’s life — but I try to maintain an equilibrium, which has led me to my current path. Away from my professional life, I particularly enjoy and find therapy in cooking. My favourite chef is Yotam Ottolenghi and I love experimenting with and fusing cuisines. To balance my love for food, I am also active in yoga and social sports, including indoor volleyball and nine-a-side football.

Tell us a bit about your time at the University. 

I am a Simulation Coordinator at the Adelaide Health Simulation in the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. I have been in this role since February 2020. 

My role enables me to work dynamically with Adelaide Nursing School course coordinators to design teaching delivery methods, clinical skills, and simulation and assessments (OSCEs). We aim to provide quality outcomes for students by facilitating a safe and supported learning environment. Specifically, I am the Simulation Coordinator for topics within the Bachelor of Nursing Years 2-3 and Master of Clinical Nursing Year 2. While I teach clinical skills and simulation across the nursing discipline, I also teach into health sciences and medicine and facilitate an appreciation and respect for interprofessional learning. The Adelaide Health Simulation also provides service and technical support to external organisations for which we, as a team, provide technical coordination and academic teaching. Some of these that I have been a part of include: Chinese International Education Program, NYSF Student Tours, CENA (SA Branch) Trauma in Special Populations Presentation, and NAHLN Children’s University Events.

I feel extremely fortunate to have current teaching experience in Australasia’s only Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH) accredited centre for learning and teaching. This is only a reflection of the quality of expertise, learning, and teaching that is produced within Adelaide Health Simulation, which I feel very much a part of. 

What has been your journey to get where you are today? 

It is no secret that the public health system is under immense pressure, even from before the pandemic. Before you know it, as a health care worker, it is easy to feel burnout — which is what led me to pursue a change in pace and workplace. For my benefit, I began teaching in clinical skills in a casual capacity for the Adelaide Nursing School for two years whilst clinical. I learned more about myself and the nursing discipline than I ever could have imagined. I quickly developed lasting professional relationships with other teaching academics and students and was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to apply for a role as a Simulation Coordinator within Adelaide Health Simulation in 2020. Whilst challenging at the time, I resigned from my role as a Clinical Nurse and evolved into my current role, which has proven to be a great decision in my professional career and pathway. 

I have been so fortunate to work dynamically and independently within a metropolitan emergency department, where the cases are often urgent and unpredictable. While this fuelled my desire to deliver quality patient-centred care, I have now moulded and continued to develop my practice in the academic setting. Student-focused learning has now driven my passion to facilitate the delivery of experiential learning, which is so essential to nursing and other health-related professions. Teaching clinical skills and simulation in health care supports both a structured and opportunistic environment and facilitates deliberate and reflective practice in a safe environment, which I am such an advocate for. This is merely the foundation for my progression in the academic setting.

Andrea Davila

What do you love most about working at the University of Adelaide? 

Since joining the exceptionally skilled and innovative team at the Adelaide Health Simulation, I continue to be mentored and inspired by my colleagues. What I love most about my role is the capacity to interact with students and share the energy that they bring into the simulation labs. 

My role is very creative with regards to content development and delivery. I often incorporate skills and critical thinking in the form of ‘dual simulation’; where two types of learning experiences are achieved. Students undertake a scenario that has an achievable clinical objective as a small group. At the same time, their peers observe the encounter and reflect on the scenario as it occurs in real time. Debrief and feedback as a whole group follow and response to the encounter is unpacked. In scenarios that require invasive objectives, high fidelity mannekins are utilised. I also often use actors who roleplay as ‘patients’ (Standardised Patients), which really helps the students to acknowledge ‘human factors’ and practise their communication. I appreciate that I may have somewhat contributed to ‘traumatising’ students with some of the simulated ‘Code Black’ scenarios (haha!) but I always reinforce the safe learning environment that we, as the tutors and AHS, provide. 

My goal is to provide the students with the best learning experience possible. I feel a great degree of satisfaction when I see students fully immersed in our developed content and really contextualising theory into practice in this supported setting. I am particularly proud of the quality of students within the University of Adelaide and I have the privilege to facilitate their growth into amazing clinicians.

Where’s your favourite spot on campus?

To be honest, my office on Level 2 in the Adelaide Health and Medical Science (AHMS) building. I share my immediate office with four other academic staff and, while we work extremely hard, nothing beats the laughter that goes on in there. As mentioned, I am quite the prankster, and my colleagues just happen to be afraid of loud popping noises or things jumping out to scare them. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in health?

I was so fortunate to grow up with my great-grandmother, who was often quite unwell. She didn’t speak English, and I would often tag along and accompany her to appointments or hospital in acute instances. This influenced my appreciation and respect for the health care profession — one which I wanted to be a part of. I developed a passion for nursing and was fortunate to have the support of my family going forward.

Andrea Davila

Have you ever had a life-changing experience? 

In essence, my experience in the clinical setting, as a whole, has impacted my perspective on life — both professionally and personally. Clinically, you’ll usually meet people when they are experiencing possibly the worst day of their lives or journeying toward the end of their lives. This has altered the way in which I interact with all people. I take time to appreciate the small things and be kind to myself and others in the process.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Most people know about my love for good coffee and purchase of a lovely coffee machine. Most people don’t know, however, that my husband and I undertook a barista course just to learn to how to make the perfect coffee at home. It has become quite the hobby. There is an appreciation for the science behind the age of the bean, grind size, and extraction process and now I can’t make a coffee without weighing the grind and output, haha! I’m still working on the latte art.

What are your top café/restaurant recommendations around Adelaide? 

  • Fugazzi on Leigh Street, Adelaide – mainly for their Whipped Ricotta and Honey Gnocco Fritto!
  • For an honest bowl of ramen – Black Dog Gallery on Greenhill Road, Tusmore <3 
  • For a love of pizza – Pizzateca on Chalk Hill Rd, McLaren Vale is worth the drive just for their Diablo (it’s the house-made chilli honey!)
  • Seven Grounds Cafe on Hawker St, Brompton – Breakfast Dumplings! But also, lovely coffee and staff :)

What kind of difference would you like to make in the world? 

I don’t particularly strive to make a difference in the world, per se. I like to hope that I can positively influence the people in my life by being genuine, reliable, and striving to demonstrate empathy and support. By no means do others’ perceptions of me influence my behaviour but, ultimately, I would like to think that, with consistency, you can bring out the best in others by demonstrating those genuine traits.

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