Mentor and nurse leader Rosemary Harrison, remembered through new ACN Leadership Scholarship

Rosemary Harrison had a long and successful career in Nursing in Australia and in the United Kingdom, working in numerous hospitals across Sydney, including Sydney, Westmead, and Hornsby Ku-ring-ai. Rosemary was highly skilled, and a great leader and mentor.

Thanks to a generous gift of $75,000 donated by Rosemary’s brother Richard Harrison and family in her memory, the ACN Foundation has established the Rosemary Harrison Scholarship. This will award up to $15,000 annually for five years for a nurse to undertake the Australian College of Nursing (ACN) Nurse Director Leadership Program as well as full registration, travel, and accommodation for ACN’s National Nursing Forum.

Rosemary Craig Harrison was born in Leicester, England on 6 October 1945 to Eric and Mary Harrison. She and her brother Richard grew up there until their family emigrated to New Zealand and then Australia in 1959 when they were in their teens. Rosemary attended Macarthur Girls’ High after which she studied nursing. She was awarded first place in the state at the NSW Nurses Registration Board examinations in 1968. That same year Rosemary was awarded the AM Kellett Memorial Prize by the Nurses Registration Board. She was also awarded the Lucy Osburn Scholarship at Sydney Hospital.

Rosemary then returned to England where she completed a Renal Nursing Certificate at London’s Hammersmith Hospital and spent time in their Haemodialysis unit. After returning to Sydney Hospital as both a Planning Officer Sister and Clinical Instructor, Rosemary then embarked on several short-term roles, one of which was as the private nurse and companion to Lady Lloyd Jones. At this time Rosemary also became a product specialist for medical equipment firms specialising in dialysis.

In 1978 Rosemary moved to Westmead Hospital before the opening of the hospital as a Commissioning Assistant Director of Nursing. Here she was responsible for setting up the surgical and renal services and so helped establish clinical policy and procedural manuals, decide where equipment would be located, and recruited nursing staff.

From Westmead Rosemary was appointed Director of Nursing at Hornsby Ku-ring-ai Hospital. She was highly organised and had great leadership skills and was very highly thought of by her colleagues. She was also a mentor to other Directors of Nursing and many senior nursing staff.

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, Rosemary resigned from her position at Hornsby but was able to take up a position as a Visiting Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney and Northern Sydney Area Health Service.

Rosemary was known for her thirst for knowledge and learning, sense of humour, love of music and musical theatre, her silk painting, her love for her family, and her friendship.

ACN is honoured to establish and administer the Rosemary Harrison Scholarship.

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