Nursing Trailblazers

The Hon. Greg Hunt MP, in conjunction with Australian College of Nursing, launched the inaugural Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers in 2019. This award is the first of its kind in Australia and acknowledges the vital role nurses play in transforming our country’s health and aged care system.

Nursing has the solutions to many of the problems that plague our health and aged care systems. This prestigious award is bestowed upon a nurse who has demonstrated leadership to bring new thinking to a wide range of health care challenges.

Nikki Johnston OAM MACN was presented with the inaugural Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers at the official launch of Nursing Now Australia on 9 April 2019. Congratulations to Nikki and the other exceptional Finalists who were celebrated on the night. Read their bios below to find out more about their extraordinary accomplishments.

2019 Trailblazer Winner

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Nikki Johnston OAM MACN

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Nikki became a registered nurse in 1989 and a Nurse Practitioner in 2008. She was recognised in the 2019 Australia Day Honors as a recipient of a Medal of the Order of Australia for her contribution to nursing.

Currently working for Calvary Health Care, Canberra Nikki believes all Australians deserve access to quality care in their last months of life regardless of their age, diagnosis or where they live. Currently end of life care experiences differ broadly for those living in residential aged care and access to specialist palliative care isn’t usual practice.

Nikki has initiated research through the INSPIRED trial which integrates specialist palliative care into residential aged care through the use of Palliative Care Needs Rounds. The trial found that regular rounds identified residents most at risk of dying without an adequate plan in place.

The INSPIRED trial has significantly reduced length of hospital stay and in-hospital deaths with significant costs savings to the community. Importantly, participants were more likely to experience a better-quality death (including better symptom control, advance planning, closeness with relatives and spiritual care).

Nikki’s approach improves Residential Aged Care Facility (RACF) staff confidence in discussing death and dying with families and planning for symptoms and goals of care at end of life. It supports palliative care in RACF and normalises death and dying, while providing essential anticipatory prescribing and better decision-making leading to planned care for residents.

Nikki’s work was influential in the Commonwealth’s decision to provide $32.8 of funding in the 2018-2019 Budget to support older Australian living in RACFs. The INSPIRED model of care is being rolled out in three States/Territories in Australia and being tested in rural and remote areas. Nikki has been recognised for her work nationally and internationally for integrating specialist palliative care into RACFs.

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2019 Trailblazer Finalists

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Professor Sandy Middleton FACN

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Sandy Middleton is Professor of Nursing and Director of the Nursing Research Institute, a collaboration between St Vincent’s Health Australia Sydney and Australian Catholic University. Professor Middleton was the lead investigator on the landmark NHMRC-funded QASC cluster trial demonstrating decreased death and dependency following implementation of nurse-initiated, multidisciplinary protocols to manage fever, hyperglycaemia and swallowing post-stroke. Working with the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation, Professor Middleton led the successful translation of these protocols into all 36 NSW stroke services. An independent economic evaluation demonstrated that over a 12-month period, if only 65% of eligible Australians received care in line with these protocols there would be a saving of $281M. This work now informs care recommendations in the Australian Clinical Guidelines for Stroke Management and internationally. These protocols now have been translated into 12 languages and are being implemented into 300 hospitals in 14 European countries. This program of work won the 2014 NSW Premier’s Public Sector Award for Improving Performance and Accountability, and multiple international awards. Professor Middleton also won the prestigious 2014 NSW Health Nursing and Midwifery Award for Excellence in Innovation Research. Professor Middleton has obtained extensive competitive funding and published in high impact journals including Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine. Professor Middleton is a member of the Board of Directors for the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation and the Clinical Excellence Commission. She is leading the implementation science component of the Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) one of Australia’s nine NHMRC-accredited Advanced Health Research and Translation Centres. She is also a Ministerial appointment to the NHMRC Health Translation Advisory Committee.

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Professor Jeanine Young FACN

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Professor Jeanine Young, University of the Sunshine Coast, has worked in Australia and the United Kingdom in neonatal intensive care, paediatrics and community child health. Jeanine has a special interest in infant care practices; in particular breastfeeding and parent-infant bed-sharing. She works closely with Red Nose to ensure national infant sleep recommendations are evidence-based, and is passionate about growing community capacity through partnership models to address health inequalities associated with infant mortality. Jeanine has established a research program to investigate Queensland’s high infant mortality rate, with a focus on evidence-based strategies to assist health professionals in delivering Safe Sleeping messages to families with young infants. Through international collaborations and local community partnerships, Jeanine first introduced the Pēpi-Pod Program, a portable sleep space combined with safe sleep education as a strategy to promote safe infant sleeping and breastfeeding in the context of shared sleeping. This culturally appropriate and feasible strategy to reduce infant mortality has been integrated into service delivery rural, remote and metropolitan Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Queensland, and more recently in other Australian states and territories. Jeanine has also initiated the first Australian trial of a sleep enabler suitable for postnatal units to support breastfeeding and promote safer infant sleep environments in hospital. Jeanine works in partnership with government, industry, safety and regulatory bodies, and communities in translating evidence into practical advice for parents. Her efforts in reducing infant mortality through supporting the role of health professionals and health promotion within communities have received state, national and international recognition. In collaboration with Change for our Children New Zealand, Jeanine is the Australian lead for the Pēpi-Pod Program, which comprises a practical infant sleep space suitable for shared sleeping embedded in safe sleep education, now available in metropolitan, rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Jeanine has also initiated the first Australian trial of a portable sleep space suitable for postnatal units to support breastfeeding and promote safer infant sleep environments in hospital.

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Linda Campbell MACN

Linda Campbell MACN

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Linda Campbell has over 30 years of experience in nursing including working in rural and remote areas of Australia and New Zealand, as well as the USA. She has an interest in blood transfusion and its alternatives, and was appointed as the Clinical Nurse Consultant for Patient Blood Management (PBM) at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (WA) in 2012. Linda has led the program since its inception.

PBM aims to decrease the risk of blood transfusion by optimising haemoglobin (Hb) and iron stores prior to elective surgery involving significant blood loss. Preoperative optimisation facilitates the post-op recovery of Hb and has the capacity to change transfusion practice. This intervention has significantly reduced transfusion rates in elective joint replacement patients and the model has been replicated at a secondary site and is now rolled out to other surgical specialties at SCGH.

It is important to Linda that patients receive equitable care despite the geographical challenges of living thousands of kilometers from Perth. Creating networks with GPs and regional healthcare providers has been instrumental in the success of PBM. Over 1000 patients across the State of Western Australia are referred to Linda annually and audit has shown that 99% of joint replacement patients receive PBM review and care. Educating clinical staff about the impact of blood transfusion and PBM has led Linda to contribute to GP clinical pathways, deliver presentations at State, National and International meetings and provide tutorials for WA undergraduate medical students.

The overall transfusion rate has fallen by 30% at SCGH since PBM was introduced. This not only has significant cost saving benefits (over $1.2 million annually) but has made a major contribution to patient safety and reduced the demand on the blood supply; ensuring that donor blood is available for trauma or transfusion dependent patients. Although PBM is relatively new evidence based discipline in medicine it is one of the few areas where improved outcomes, reduced risks and cost savings are all made at the same time. This legacy will continue to improve patient care for years to come.

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2019 Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers Presentation

Could you be the next award recipient?

Applications for the inaugural Health Minister’s Award for Nursing Trailblazers have now closed. Register your interest to receive information about the next round of nominations.

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