Patient's family sparks nurse's research focus
Professor Kate White’s close connection with a patient’s family inspired her interest in research.
Then a Palliative Care Nurse, she cared for a woman, pregnant with her fourth child, who’d been diagnosed with secondary cancer. She died six weeks after giving birth to a baby boy.
“How that led me to research at the time was… both sides of her family kept coming up and telling me ‘Thank you’… and… said ‘You did so much to improve her quality of life,’” she said.
The comments prompted Professor White to reflect.
“I questioned myself. ‘What does that actually mean? Are we really improving someone’s quality of life? Do we understand what it is?’” she said.
And it sparked Professor White to undertake a PhD, to better understand what the term ‘quality of life’ means to someone when they’re facing a life-threatening disease.
Professor White shared her story at Sydney Local Health District’s annual Nursing and Midwifery Research Symposium.
It’s a forum to showcase outstanding research and practice development activities that have been undertaken by the District’s nurses and midwives.
This year’s theme was Voices in Harmony and focused on key research areas – Clinical Practice, Patient and Family Centred Care, Workforce, Workplace and Systems, and Technology and Informatics.
“The aim of the Symposium is to contribute to the development and support of a research culture within Nursing and Midwifery Services across the District,” Lily Pho, the Leadership, Culture and Practice Development Nurse Manager for the District’s Nursing and Midwifery Executive Unit, said.
The keynote address “Nurse Collaborations: The Key to Changing Health Outcomes” was delivered by Dr Robyn Gallagher, a Professor of Nursing at the University of Sydney who leads a team researching secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
The District’s Director of Nursing and Midwifery Services, Ivanka Komusanac, told the 130 Symposium delegates nursing and midwifery research activity continues to grow in all areas of practice across the District.
This year, nurses have been supported to develop and enhance their research skills by participating in a two-day “Introduction to Research” course which includes 12-months of follow-up mentoring.
A regular Research Drop-In Clinic has provided assistance to more than 100 nurses and midwives.
Nurses and midwives continue to be successful in obtaining nationally competitive, state and local research funding. The expanded activity has led to the publication of research papers, conference presentations and scholarships.
“From beginning nurse researcher through to the experienced clinical nurse researcher, there has been a focus on research informing practice, and improving outcomes for patients and staff within the District,” Ms Komusanac said.
During the Symposium, four individual awards were presented in recognition of achievements in research.
Professor White now has a new research focus.
“The research that I focus on now has really been working with nurses to see how we can make things that much better,” she said.
“For me, what nurses bring into the research space… is that we implement evidence and research every day in our practice. If you want to make a practice change, if you want to implement research, you need nurses on side. That’s what we do.”
To view images from the Symposium please click here.