Australia’s Gold Coast boasts some of the best nurses and midwives in the world. While today’s Florence Nightingales play a very different role from nurses of yesteryears, there’s still one attribute that has stood the test of time – and that’s genuine care for patients.
As Griffith University Professor and Clinical Chair at Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH) Jennifer Fenwick said, “It’s a very privileged position, it makes you humble.” She feels that the experience of helping women become mothers and witnessing the miracle of life is one that is unparalleled.
Nurses today are all university-educated. Griffith University’s nursing and midwifery program was ranked 29 in the world (in the recent global QS subject rankings); and the unique location of its campus within the Gold Coast Health and Knowledge Precinct allows for a perfect blend of clinical expertise and research excellence, benefitting patients.
Griffith’s Nursing and Midwifery program is highly rated by the ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) and scores ‘well above world standard’.
GOING THE EXTRA MILE
Enhancing pregnancy and childbirth experiences is high on the priority list for nursing and midwifery researchers. They collate data and work towards exploring the many different way nurses can intervene from prevention to treatment, making hospitalisation and recovery better for patients.
Nursing research has a big impact – ranging from innovations to mitigate infection, to path-breaking research to handle emergencies, and new-age robotics for patients with dementia, the sky is the limit to what is possible with today’s technology.
Professor Wendy Chaboyer, Director of the National Centre for Research Excellence in Nursing (NCRN) and part of the Menzies Health Institute Queensland at Griffith University was in 2015 inducted into the International Nursing Researcher Hall of Fame.
Professor Chaboyer was trained as an intensive care nurse in her native Canada, and came to Griffith University in 1994 as the coordinator of the first Masters of Critical Care Nursing program in Queensland. Her innovative research on patient safety explored many areas, including how to reduce pressure ulcers or bedsores that are a great source of discomfort to immobile patients.
“Nursing is a profession, not simply a trade. In universities, nurses are educated to become the critical thinkers and quick decision makers that they need to be in order to provide high quality patient care,” says Professor Chaboyer.
Associate Professor Dr Brigid Gillespie works with Professor Chaboyer and leads a $2.3 million NHMRC (National Health & Medical Research Council) study into negative pressure wound therapy. This is a technique that uses a special sealed vacuum dressing to promote the healing of acute or chronic wounds. Professor Gillespie’s research also looks into ways to prevent wound infections after surgery.
A world-leading researcher in the area of intravenous (IV) catheters, Professor Clare Rickard works with cancer patients who have these central line catheters or PICCs inserted into large veins for chemotherapy. IV drips are also used for blood transfusions, and fluid and nutrient intake and blood sampling.
Professor Clare Rickard leads a $1.1 million NHMRC national study that involves leading hospitals and Australian universities, and is set to improve how IV’s are secured and dressed in a manner that avoids infections, dislodgement and more serious complications.
“Research repeatedly demonstrates a 40% failure rate with IV usage,” Professor Rickard says, adding, “At a cost of approximately $70 per IV that is $700 million. If we can just reduce failure form 40% to 30% as a result of better insertion and care, we could save $175 million nationally.”
Patients and their caregivers in emergency departments are always stressed and thrown into an atmosphere that is hectic and sometimes chaotic. Professor Julia Crilley’s research project involves streamlining how patients are treated in ED, from the time they come in, through to discharge or hospital admission.
Dr Andrea Marshall has over more than two decades experience in critical care nursing and research, and Professor Wendy Moyle is internationally recognised for her research in social robots and assistive technologies for people with dementia.
PhD student Georgia Tobiano, a GCUH nurse undertaking a PhD at Griffith has seen first-hand how research translates to better outcomes. She talks about a lawyer and mother who felt overwhelmed after major surgery. She shared a bond while helping the woman shower and dress and this reminded her of the importance of empowering patients.
RESEARCH LEADING TO REFORM
One of four clinical chairs jointly appointed by GCUH and Griffith in nursing and midwifery, Professor Fenwick focuses her research on ensuring women experience the best pregnancies, births and bonding with their babies, through interactions with their own midwife throughout.
“It’s simple, women do better when they have their own midwife and this should be the gold-standard of care,” says Professor Fenwick.
Professor Anderson, who is internationally well known in the world of women’s health, has recently attended the United Nations by participating in a major global study. She focuses on women’s wellness after cancer, which is a field where she believes nurses can play a critical role.
“I love the diversity and breadth that a nursing degree brings,” says Professor Anderson.
“From being able to work with mums and babies, children, adolescents right through to older age. I love being able to provide evidenced-based research into my clinical practice. I love working with people from a range of backgrounds and cultures and I love that you can travel and work overseas with a nursing degree.”
Undoubtedly, all these are excellent reasons to choose a nursing or midwifery career!