A ST John of God Hospital nurse researcher and Murdoch University lecturer have been selected as finalists in the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards.
GAIL Ross-Adjie has worked at St John of God Murdoch for 14 years, beginning her career as an emergency nurse before obtaining a PhD and taking up residence at the hospital’s Centre for Nursing and Midwifery Research.
Her finalist berth in the Excellence in Research category is recognition for work on a wide range of projects, including a study seeking to identify the falls rate for patients in the year following total hip and knee replacement surgery.
“One in three people over the age of 65 falls in any 12 month period; that is the benchmark but we are unsure whether people fall more or less after hip or knee replacements,” Dr Ross-Adjie said.
“The problem with falls is that they can be associated with significant injury and they also often cause a loss of confidence in older people that directly affects their quality of life.
“We’ve recruited more than 430 patients (who) have undergone total hip and knee replacement at St John of God Murdoch and we’ll be following them closely for the next 12 months.
“We’ve also been given permission from the study participants to access their Medicare data which means we’ll be able to arrive at a really good estimate of the costs of a fall.
“The ultimate aim is to be able to assess a patient’s falls risk before they leave hospital so that we can implement falls prevention strategies for those we know are at a high risk of injury.”
Dr Ross-Adjie is also updating her Murdoch Bowel Protocol, first developed in 2008 and since adopted internationally to ensure patients return to normal bowel activity as soon as possible following a hip or knee replacement.
“Going to the toilet is a problem for patients after this kind of surgery because of the constipation-causing medication they receive,” she said.
“Essentially the Murdoch Bowel Protocol is based on an adjustable dose of an over the counter laxative.
“However, over the last nine years the amount of time patient stays in hospital has reduced considerably; in 2008 it was maybe seven to 10 days and now it’s three or four,” she said.
“That means the protocol needs to be modified and re-tested and we’re in the process of doing that.”
Other projects Dr Ross-Adjie is working on include a study of the maternity care needs of fly-in fly-out families and an investigation of the reasons behind a marked decline in breastfeeding rates by six months after birth.
PRUE Andrus believes teaching is in her blood – and the Murdoch University nursing lecturer has the track record to prove it.
A registered nurse, Ms Andrus has at various points in her life also qualified as a scuba diving, sky diving and first aid instructor.
She also spent six years in the Australian Defence Force Reserves where she found herself training medics.
“Teaching is a natural method of communication for me and education is a big part of what a registered nurse does in normal daily practice – we are constantly educating our patients and colleagues – so it was an easy transition,” she said.
Ms Andrus began teaching at Murdoch University in 2006 and is the current academic lead for simulation across the Bachelor of Nursing program.
“Education is such an inspiring field to work in and part of our job is to research and find the best evidence-backed teaching practices and that’s where simulation comes in,” she said.
“It’s a method that is really enjoyable to teach and use because its easy to see the impact on learners and you can watch them grow across semesters and throughout the three-year curriculum.”
Simulated hospital wards populated by life-like mannequins have become increasingly integral to nursing curriculums over the past decade.
“When I first started in 2006 isolated lecturers would use simulation now and again but the momentum has grown over the last 10 years so that simulation is now firmly embedded across all units and years,” Ms Andrus said.
“It makes learning a lot more holistic; students have to approach a mannequin in bed and introduce themselves, look at the medical notes and work out the patient’s issue, go to the drug room, choose and prepare the correct medication and then go back to the ward to administer, complete documentation and do post-care.”
Last year Murdoch University duplicated its Mandurah simulation suite at its South Street Campus and Ms Andrus now splits her time between both locations.
She has been selected as a one of three finalists in the Excellence in Teaching category of the WA Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards.
The winners will be announced at a gala dinner on May 6.