Nurse of the Year

Interview with Tania Green

I just want to make a positive difference; I try and appreciate what these families face by sharing in their lives so that I can be that positive difference – that support and care that make the small things easier, so they can focus on the important care for their child, and I can advocate for their improved care.

Nurse of the Year Tania Green.


Nurse of the Year Tania Green is instantly recognisable at Melbourne’s Monash Children’s Hospital by her huge grin and infectious giggle.

As clinic nurse coordinator for the Cleft and Craniofacial Unit she has dedicated her life to improving awareness of the treatment and care for cleft affected babies.

Staff will tell you her passion extends well beyond the job description, earning her the 2020 Hesta Nurse of the Year title.

So happy to share the story of Tania Green.


Martine Harte: First off huge congrats on your award, this has come at a time when the community is painfully aware of the sacrifices and courage nurses bring to the role.

How are and your colleagues coping during Covid 19?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

Thank you Martine and as with our community, nurses are adapting to the ever evolving changes this pandemic is bringing.  At the fore, we are just hoping the community stay safe whilst also rebuilding services to enable safe and appropriate care to the patients to support their ongoing development in this challenging environment.


We are also fortunate to be able to continue working at a time many in the community cannot and even explore opportunities to be more involved in workforce and health organisational responses.


Is there an attitude or frame of mind nurses adopt which you believe helps during times such as this pandemic?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I have always wanted to help people; I think as nurses we are in a unique position to be able to appreciate good health and happiness and certainly helps me get out of bed each day and do my best!


I just want to make a positive difference; I try and appreciate what these families face by sharing in their lives so that I can be that positive difference – that support and care that make the small things easier, so they can focus on the important care for their child, and I can advocate for their improved care!


How has the pandemic changed the way you do things at the plastic surgery unit at Monash?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I am fortunate to be well‐supported in my role as clinical nurse co‐ordinator for Monash Health’s Plastics service. The workload is high and demanding and hours long and can certainly be complex liaising within the different disciplines to advocate care needs.

Within a hospital network you need to utilise keen problem solving skills, flexibility and resourcefulness to attain resources and equipment to improve assessments and ensure care provided maximises patient outcomes.

The current COVID 19 situation is certainly my biggest challenge yet and it is inspiring to see the team’s consultative process to develop improved treatment pathways to ensure our service continues to support the ongoing care for our families.


You have a fascinating and rewarding role at Monash can you share a bit about what you do with readers?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I have the best job in Monash Health – the opportunity to work with the expert health professionals that make up the multidisciplinary teams is exciting, but it is our patients and families that make my work so rewarding, and I look forward to continually striving to develop the best Plastics service!

Plastic surgery has always interested me, although has many misconceptions as a cosmetic specialty.  I am so lucky to work with a team with both exceptional surgical skill but also the ability to provide holistic care approach by looking at the person as a whole.

I am constantly amazed at the work the plastic surgeons do and the way that they can visualise and make a change that is potentially not life-saving, but life-giving. Particularly in the area of Cleft and Craniofacial anomalies, we’re not saving lives, but we’re giving life to these patients that they wouldn’t have without this care.


You advocated for antenatal consultations for parents expecting a baby with a cleft lip or palate to educate them on the road ahead, why was this so important?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I remember the excitement of seeing the red line appear on the pregnancy test, and the dreams and fears that you have for the well-being of your baby; will he have 10 fingers and toes? And then imagine at your ultrasound, finding out there is something different about your baby.

To be able to introduce the families to the service at this time, provide knowledge, reassurance and support is integral. One young Mum chatted with me several times over the phone before agreeing to meet, and once she had met with us, she expressed she felt so much better and ready to welcome her new baby and wished she had come earlier as she felt so much more prepared.

The opportunity to meet with these families also enables me to advocate for their care from birth to adulthood, and the connection you can establish from this time helps promote the care and support we can provide.


Tell us a little about your work with CleftPALS?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

One in every 700 children is born with cleft lip and /or palate.  CleftPALS Victoria are a group of volunteers, mostly parents and cleft affected adults, who provide assistance, knowledge and resources to help support cleft affected families.

CleftPALS Victoria are an integral part of the support and advice network and strongly complement the Monash Cleft team.

The newborn welcome pack initiative has been another effective implementation of CleftPALS Victoria, and I am fortunate to have welcomed many cleft affected families with this pack.

The pack is both practical, as it provides a new bottle of each special cleft feeder with instructions on how to use, as well as plush teddy and support group information, including fridge magnet.

For parents who are just meeting their newborn for the first time, this helps them feel connected and integrates families immediately with this fantastic support resource.

And connecting is the key; there is strength in numbers and families are encouraged when can relate to other families.


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I think the partnership with CleftPALS also strengthens connections with the hospital teams, demystifying treatment pathways and medical jargon and providing a service that actually meets the complex needs required.

Can you share one of the moments (I’m sure there are many) of which are you are particularly proud?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

It sure is the small things that warm our hearts. The photos and videos from my families saying their first words, starting their first day of school, making their deb, graduating from school, even having their own babies!!

There are so many moments that I have been so lucky to share, and particularly the transformation of the cleft lip repair surgery.  Each surgery is just as special and unique but when you introduce parents to their baby in the post-op recovery ward, and they see their child for the first time following surgery – it brings tears to the eyes!

I am also proud of the great care we can provide now within the new hospital setting at Monash Children’s Hospital.  The doors opened in April 2017 and it is inspiring to see the difference in the care provided within a dedicated children’s health service.

From the multiple bathrooms and seating areas to the bright open spaces in clinic and wards, our families are overwhelmed by the wonderful changes this new building has brought, and certainly complements the hard work and dedication of the specialist services provided.  And whilst there’s no place like home, it is reassuring when families describe how comfortable they are when staying in their home away from home!


You have a reputation as going above and beyond for patients and families what do you believe drives this in you?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

Being real!  This could happen to me or my family and I am so lucky in my life. The opportunity to be able to listen and learn from families, hear their trials and tribulations and then relate this to how I would feel and make their experience better!

One young man who was recovering from speech improving surgery was treated to an exhibition of Supertees in the main foyer and the superheroes advised he would receive his T-shirt back on the ward.

Unfortunately though the Supertees were for the oncology ward so he didn’t receive one.  At his post-op appointment, he asked if I had his Supertee yet, and Mum kindly brushed him off saying it would be in the post.

This young man was determined and when I looked at his history, he had already had 5 operations in his 5 years.

When I discussed this with the Monash Foundation, they were more than happy to provide a Supertee, and the absolute delight of this young man when he received his Supertee in the post, just like Mum had said, was another highlight!


For any future nurses reading this interview what is the one insight you would like to share about why (or how) they should they enter the profession?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

Nursing is more than a just a job, it’s a part of who you are.  And by making the most of opportunities, nursing can create an exciting and dynamic career.  It never ceases to amaze me how nurses can reinvent and regenerate their learning and basic care skills to advance into new horizons. I always wanted to work in paediatrics, and by aiming high, working hard and dreaming big – here I am!


What is your long term goal?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

I have always dreamed about exploring other Cleft services both nationally and internationally to establish networking as well as benchmark our Cleft care to further improve our service to our families. This would also be an opportunity to explore and develop educational opportunities to enhance scope of service delivery in the area of Cleft care.


Cleft is still an all-encompassing journey and my dream is to raise awareness for our patient group and inspire a team of Cleft nurses!


Can you share a secret or smash a stereotype in relation to nurses?


Nurse of the Year Tania Green:

No job is too big or small!  I like to think of nursing as being a jill of all trades, the ability to be able to see a challenge and adapt and develop to reach the goal.  As with any job, you can sometimes get caught up in the mundane duties, and forget what our primary role is – to care and advocate for our patients!

One of my priorities when a family is here for surgery is to make sure mum’s bed is made up; this is not my main role, and I think this small act of care shows a big act of support and compassion.

Behind every great nurse, there is a great team!  This is my real secret – I am so fortunate to work with a team that work together to bring out the best in each other: encouraging, inspiring, motivating, supporting and recognising hard work and dedication.

The secret to success in nursing is to surround yourself with positive role models and mentors and keep challenging yourself!

Learn more about Melbourne’s Monash Children’s Hospital here.

Discover CleftPals here.

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