My research spans both clinical practice and education, and the interface where they meet. I was part of the research world when I didn’t know I was, because I helped audit clinical practice before coming into academic life. What I’m really interested in is hearing student voices becoming the voices of professional nurses.
Prioritising patients’ comfort and needs is an integral part of practising as a nurse. After training in the 1980s, I moved to a remote outstation in Australia to work in acute critical care nursing.
One patient with stage four breast cancer taught me the biggest lesson in my career. She had a short time to live and the doctor wanted to move her to a medical centre, but she wanted and needed to stay with her family.
I felt really passionate about advocating for her needs and taking a holistic approach. I was able to research how we could care for her where she was and the doctor then agreed with me. This was the first time I realised the power of a nurse to be a positive influence on patient care.
Empowering nurses to be advocates
Nurses need to be articulate, informed and passionate to advocate for a patient. In my research of enquiry-based learning, education and knowledge is one thing, but we need to be able to make that connection with the patient.
And it’s so important for us as educators to connect with and engage students through classroom strategies and assessment methods. For education to be powerful, our students must be active participants in their own education.
Anne Kirwan, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health