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First cohort of SCU’s midwifery students among those to graduate


Sharlene King
30 November 2012
Southern Cross University’s first graduating class of midwifery students will receive their Bachelor degrees at ceremonies being held tomorrow (Saturday, December 1) at the Lismore campus.

Also graduating is a husband and wife from Wagga Wagga who will each be awarded a Master of Clinical Science (Lifestyle Medicine).

The midwifery and clinical science students are among around 300 graduands from across the University’s footprint set to receive their awards from Southern Cross University Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC at three ceremonies in the Whitebrook Theatre.

Midwifery course coordinator Maree Crepinsek said the degree was the only one of its kind between Newcastle and Brisbane, and addressed gaps in an ageing midwifery workforce.

“The scope of practice for midwives is much greater than it has been in the past. Midwives are now able to work much more autonomously, but also in teams, in a range of settings from birth centres, hospital maternity units, community settings, home births and private practice.

“It’s an exciting time for the graduates, the School of Health and Human Sciences and for our clinical partners across the Mid and North Coasts,” Ms Crepinsek said.

Health professionals John and Sally Padgett work in the southern NSW city of Wagga Wagga.

John is a GP in private practice, while Sally is a physiotherapist at the local base hospital where she treats many patients suffering from lymphoedema, a progressive chronic disorder of the lymphatic system resulting in severe, painful and debilitating swelling.

The pair, who are in their fifties, said they used the Master of Clinical Science (Lifestyle Medicine) to get a better understanding of lifestyle interventions to improve patient care, such as physical activity, losing weight or quitting smoking.

“While we keep up to date with medical journals that come across our work desks, we gained a deeper understanding of the information by looking at the research more deeply through our studies,” said Sally.

Her husband agreed.

“The clinical science course was helpful because it is evidence-based and discusses a range of lifestyle choices that can affect our health in modern times,” said John.

“It has been useful to have that theoretical underpinning for the kinds of advice that I might discuss with my patients.”

Sally said they enjoyed sharing the experience of studying together despite the added pressure to their busy lifestyles.

There were benefits, too, according to John.

“It was kind of like having a tutorial group at home,” he said. “It was handy it be able to bounce ideas off each other, and to keep me focused on the task at hand.”

Southern Cross University was proud to welcome back to campus Donna Franklin as the Occasional Speaker for the 10am ceremony. Donna graduated from SCU with a Master of Business Administration and was the SCU Alumnus of the Year 2008.

Donna’s nursing career spans 25 years, including the role of nurse unit manager of the paediatric intensive care unit at the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane responsible for a $12 million budget and more than 120 nurses, and assisting in life-changing surgery for children in underdeveloped countries through the not-for-profit international organisation Operation Smile.

“My career has evolved and changed over time,” Donna said.

“I credit a colleague for some wise advice years ago. She said to imagine yourself with a tool belt of skills which is relatively empty at the beginning of your career and aim to always be gathering more tools for this the tool belt.

“I’m constantly upgrading and improving my skills and knowledge through further education and making the most of on-the-job opportunities that come my way.”

Donna has reassessed her career pathway since taking time off to have her son, eight-month-old Oliviero. She is completing a PhD through University of Queensland, focused on investigating an easy method of respiratory support for children using a randomised control study across Queensland. She is also assisting research colleagues in Uganda to set up a pilot study next year for the same treatment for children in Africa.

The research project was completed as a pilot study at the Mater Children’s Hospital this year and is ready to be expanded across Queensland.

“Hopefully it can be successfully rolled out to save young lives in Uganda where, according to the World Health Organisation, young children under the age of two years often die from pneumonia,” Donna said.

“The project brings together all the things I’ve done: clinical, management, project work, Operation Smile. It’s bringing me back to real nursing and helping kids, particularly children in underdeveloped countries.”

The other Occasional Speakers at tomorrow’s graduation ceremonies are Marele Day, crime author and editor of How To Write Crime, and Professor Elizabeth Roberts, Southern Cross University’s newly appointed Head of the School of Tourism & Hospitality Management.

Full details of the graduation ceremonies are:

10am Graduation Ceremony
School of Health and Human Sciences
Occasional Address delivered by paediatric critical care nurse Donna Franklin BN(ACU), GradCertMgt(QUT), Professional Certificate in Aviation Nursing (UniSA), MBA(SCU); SCU Alumnus of the Year 2008.

1.30pm Graduation Ceremony
Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples, School of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Education
Occasional Address delivered by Marele Day BA(Hons)(Syd), crime author and editor of How To Write Crime.

4pm Graduation Ceremony
School of Law and Justice, School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Southern Cross Business School, School of Environment, Science and Engineering
Occasional Address delivered by Professor Elizabeth Roberts BSc(CMU), MA(EMU), PhD(PU), Head of the School of Tourism & Hospitality Management at Southern Cross University
Photo: Donna Franklin volunteering for Operation Smile in Kenya.