How long have you worked at UOW?
I started work at UOW in 2006 after relocating from the UK. The position I came to had a dedicated focus on aged and dementia care and that is exactly what I was looking for … I wanted to live in Australia and since my graduation in 1992 with my BSc in Nursing Studies Honours degree I have worked with older people.
What’s your/your team’s role at the University?
I am Director of the Aged and Dementia Health Education Research group which undertakes interdisciplinary knowledge translation projects which focus on improving aged care services across care settings for older people, family carers and healthcare practitioners. My main teaching role is delivering a cross-faculty PG subject ‘Qualitative Research Skills’ for HDR candidates and master’s students doing research projects.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Knowing I am making a contribution to improving aged care services through the knowledge translation research projects I am involved in and creating work based interactive learning modules focused on improving the health and well-being of older people and their family carers for UG students who are our future workforce and PG students already working in aged care enrolled in our aged and dementia care Master’s degrees.
What’s the most challenging?
In academia, nurse researchers have to work hard to be respected by other disciplines. Despite nursing being in Universities for over 60 years we are often described as a new academic discipline because we didn’t become an all graduate profession until 30 years ago. Alongside this, the traditional academic career does not fit nursing where most new lecturers arrive at University with a successful clinical career behind them and no formal way of rewarding the skills developed from this experience for career progression in academia. The 2020 Nursing Now Campaign by the World Health Organisation aims to ensure the value of nursing is recognised globally by promoting the evidence that having more nurses in healthcare improves health outcomes for all. I plan to work hard to ensure that nursing academics at UOW are acknowledged for their achievements in improving health outcomes across communities and the value of this for health sciences research.
Proudest work achievement at UOW?
As Head of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Nursing I created a community of practice for HDR candidates and HDR supervisors which included a Moodle site with online learning activities for HDR candidates and ECRs, face-to-face group supervision for HDR candidates and a mentoring programme to enable ECRs to be become principle supervisors. My agitation for a better physical environment for our HDR candidates resulted in a refurbished office area for our HDR candidates, extra monitors and additional funds for them to access the software they needed for their research. A vibrant HDR community was created and it continues on.
What goals are you/your team working towards in 2020?
My team are working with nine aged care industry partners to finalise evidence based ‘Gerontological Nursing Competencies’ for registered nurses working with older people and their families. We are lobbying a range of stakeholders and organisations to ensure our GNCs are seen as a solution for aged care providers to ‘future proof’ their services and proactively meet new expectations for aged care that will come from the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
What’s your fondest memory so far of working at UOW?
It has to be enjoying the physical environment of the UOW campus. And in particular, having my daughter close by when she was in day care at KidsUni surrounded by gum trees while she played outside.
Random fact about you or hidden talent?
I thought my talent was pizza making. But when I asked my 12 year old daughter what my talent is, she told me, “You are really good at giving advice.” That made my day, especially since we spent these holidays together in isolation!
What’s your favourite place in the world and why?
It has to be the Illawarra. Every day, when I walk along the beach and look up at the escarpment I am so glad I was brave enough to make the move to UOW and I am so happy that I am still here.
Something on your bucket list you’d care to share?
To answer this question I asked myself, “If I had a year off work what would I do?” And what came to me was staying at home creating a native garden and an all-season veggie patch.