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Lumen Summer 2017 Issue
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21-year milestone for Adelaide Nursing School

Nursing students

Nursing students

The University of Adelaide’s nursing program has travelled a long way in its first 21 years.


After a low-key launch delivering courses to postgraduates in 1995, it has been transformed into one of Australia’s most highly rated teaching and research schools of nursing.


“We began small and it took three to four years before most people in the University even knew we existed,” says Lecturer Dr David Foley.


“But for a number of years now we’ve been ranked the number one or two nursing school in terms of employability and satisfaction with the program. Employers frequently comment on the quality of our graduates.”


The University first began its involvement in nursing after winning a tender to teach postgraduate courses – graduate diplomas, masters and honours degrees and PhD studies.
The next major step came in 2005 when the University responded to health industry feedback about the way undergraduates were being prepared for nursing.


After a series of focus groups involving local hospitals and other health professionals, Adelaide Nursing School’s first undergraduate course was created.


“The course was unusual and quite innovative in that it had a very strong focus on an integrated clinical experience program,” says David.


“For the first time students were involved in two days of class time and three days of placement each week to ensure they were are well prepared for practice. Traditionally clinical time and course work was separated into blocks of several weeks.”


Associate Professor Judy Magarey, the Deputy Head of Nursing, helped write the curriculum for the undergraduate program which started with 35 students and has grown to an annual intake of about 200.


The postgraduate program is also strong with nearly 500 students, including 20 PhD students.
Early next year nursing will celebrate another milestone when it moves into a new purpose-built school within the Adelaide Health and Medical Sciences building near the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.


Judy says the teaching staff have been closely involved in the design of the new facilities.
“It’s been a collaborative process right from the beginning – it’s going to be a wonderful teaching space with the most up-to-date facilities,” says Judy.


“We’re closely located with medicine which means there will be more opportunities for both academics and students in nursing and medicine to interact.”


The teaching spaces have been designed to encourage small-group interactive teaching which is very much student centred.


A key feature of the new building is a state-of-the-art skills laboratory and simulation centre to recreate a variety of healthcare environments from emergency and outpatient departments towards and GP clinics.


This will be one of the most technologically advanced laboratories of its kind in Australia and will allow medical and nursing students to operate in teams to gain experience in tackling a range of simulated health events.


Lecturer Alison Walsh knows as well as anyone the importance of such infrastructure. Alison is a past and current student at the school, studying an oncology graduate diploma in 2006. She’s now doing a masters in clinical nursing specialising in oncology and has plans for a PhD.
“Even though a lot of the course is online, the practical study is interactive and I have the opportunity to really extend myself,” says Alison.


“Oncology is an area that’s progressing rapidly with all the research, so as a student and lecturer I need to be on top of all the changes and how they translate into clinical practice.”
Adelaide Nursing School also has a strong research culture and boasts two professors listed among the world’s most highly cited researchers – Head of School Alison Kitson and Professorial Research Fellow Gill Harvey.


In its three surveys since 2010, Excellence in Research for Australia has given the school a top five-point rating every time – a score achieved by only two other Australian nursing schools.
This is well above world standard and places it among the top international nursing schools in terms of impact and reputation.


Story by Ian Williams 

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