School of Nursing, Sydney, hosts virtual Awards and Prize Ceremony

25 June 2020

The University of Notre Dame Australia’s School of Nursing, Sydney recently hosted a special 2020 Awards and Prize Ceremony evening online, with in-person celebrations, graduations and gatherings postponed due to COVID-19.

Dean of the School, Sally Robertson said it was important to recognise and celebrate student achievements. “Along with the undergraduate students, it was special to celebrate the achievements of the research students,” she added.

The School recognised 35 nursing students, including four Higher Degree by Research graduands, with awards for academic achievement and prizes, such as vouchers from publishers, text books and gift cards.

Among the recipients was Kate Saw, who came first in three second-year courses and also received a Community Service Award for her work on the School’s mentoring program, as well as other volunteering efforts (Kate also won the Toby Hicks Service Award this year, read more here). President of the Sydney campus Nursing Society (NURSOC), Erin Turner, also received a Community Service Award for her work in the Nursing Society and for keeping communication lines open between nursing students and academic staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graduand Susan Whittam was acknowledged for successfully completing her Masters of Philosophy (Nursing). Susan’s thesis examined the experiences of Senior Registered Nurses (SRNs) working with New Graduate Nurses (NGNs) in one Australian level-six intensive care unit (ICU).

“My analysis revealed that working in the ICU with NGNs increased the level of patient surveillance and workload for SRNs, contributing to SRNs feeling stressed, pressured and overwhelmed. However, an obligation to support and care for new nurses prevailed, as they were perceived by senior nurses as not yet possessing the clinical skills to care for critically ill patients independently. Reports from the senior nurses suggest that the very nurses supporting graduates in the intensive care unit, need support themselves,” explains Susan.

Susan now works in a nursing research role and believes her experience at Notre Dame was personally and professionally life-changing thanks to the level of pastoral care she received from her supervisors – Dr Nerilee Torning and Associate Professor Joanna Patching.

“Studying, especially at a higher degree level, is very much a team effort. Your supervisors are as invested as you and contribute so much of their time, goodwill and support to see you succeed,” says Susan.

Your family and friends are invested as well – they are willing to support you when you miss events because they understand the commitment required – and graduation is a way of celebrating that commitment with everyone. Considering this and the fact that graduation could not go ahead, I think this Awards Ceremony was a wonderful idea.

“Having sat through many graduations before, it was the most authentic ceremony I’ve experienced, and it was a wonderful surprise to hear my Dean of Nursing speak. My mother, sister and partner watched with a glass of champagne in hand. My mother got a little teary because she was so proud but also, as a retired nurse, it made her feel optimistic about the future of nursing.”

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