Past scholarship winners

Ollie Schollie Nurse Practitioner Scholarship

Mark Jones has worked as an emergency nurse practitioner / candidate for almost 10 years and felt the need for a new challenge. Developing a multidisciplinary chronic pain service in one of the highest opiate prescription areas within Australia is the new challenge, he chose. The Ollie Scollie scholarship is contributing towards Mark’s Graduate Certificate in Pain Management.

Mark’s Story

In February 2018 Mark embarked upon a potential change of scope of practice as a nurse practitioner. Part of this was enrolling into the Graduate Certificate of Pain Management with the University of Sydney . Mark was already working within a demographic area known for high opioid prescribing and no geographical local tertiary pain service. Mark felt that from his 10 years of working within the Lyell McEwin Hospital Emergency Department, it was obvious that services in chronic pain needed to be developed. It was thought that his progression of knowledge would be of positive benefit for his local emergency department and the community of Adelaide’s Northern Suburbs

Fortunately, Mark’s timing of enrolling into the course was fortuitous as he was simultaneously successful in gaining employment as a nurse practitioner within the Northern Pain Rehabilitation Service in the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network. This was a pain service being established to assist in addressing the demand previously discussed. Mark felt that whilst this initial change of scope of practice was daunting, it was exciting, and it increased anticipation that this postgraduate course would positively contribute towards his new role.

Mark said, “to state that the Graduate Certificate of Pain Management was beneficial in progressing both my clinical and theoretical knowledge in regards chronic pain would be an understatement”. Mark felt that the course was the difference between success and failure of his progression into the new role. He described the course as a practical and sequential progression, commencing initially with pain science education and progressing to a structured assessment approach for consumers, diagnostic strategies and treatment approaches from both a medical and allied health point of view, complimenting his experiential learning fantastically.

The Ollie Schollie Nurse Practitioner scholarship not only enabled Mark to embark on studies but also lead to increased professional success and inspired him to enrol in a Graduate Diploma/Masters of Pain Management.




Laura Sanderson Trust

Elizabeth Vile was awarded the Laura Sanderson Trust scholarship in 2015 to attend the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Perth, Western Australia. At the time of receiving the grant, Elizabeth had commenced working at Hamersley Aged Care after moving from an acute clinical setting in a Hospital.

The International Conference was overwhelming with the amount of information available to Elizabeth, but she found the enthusiasm and dedication of the other attendees to be inspiring. A common theme throughout all sessions was the need to raise aware about dementia and to reduce stigma surrounding the condition. Amongst the topics covered were the research advances in dementia pharmacological treatments to the philosophy and quality of care. Elizabeth described her main take away as the importance of using the correct language to communicate and the need to involve the people with dementia in decisions on their care plans. Whilst some of the presentations were described as quite technical and research based, others were genuine experiences expressed from people living with dementia who gave moving accounts of their life stories.

Following the conference, Elizabeth was looking forward to sharing her learnings with her colleagues and implementing some of the learnings.


Crestani Scholarship in Cancer Nursing

Merryn Barclay applied for the Crestani Scholarship as a student of the Graduate Certificate in Cancer Nursing at ACN. At the time of applying for the scholarship, Merryn was the Associate Nurse unit Manager of the Ambulatory Cancer Services at Western Health. With 5 years’ experience working in cancer services, Merryn believed that she had developed the fundamentals from ward experience to be competent. In order to develop further and become a real specialist in my field, Merryn recognised the need for specialist education, which was available at the Australian College of Nursing.

Merryn’s interest in cancer nursing developed from an experience as a graduate nurse and continued to grow after losing her mother to brain cancer, whilst completing her bachelor’s degree at the age of 22. During her mother’s journey Merryn was able to see how nurses could have such a positive impact on a person affected by cancer and have the ability to improve their cancer experience. During her mother’s battle she was able to experience first-hand the difficulty of managing the side effects of cancer at home and just how important education is for the patient and family to receive in order to minimise feelings of fear and anxiety after leaving the hospital.

Merryn provided this personal insight into her experience:

"I still remember when my mother would have episodes of confusion at home where she would become quite aggressive and upset. Due to her brain tumour, she was also very unsteady on her feet making it difficult to ensure her safety during these times. As her carer, I was unsure of what to do and who to contact. We had been provided a number for a nurse to call if we had any issues at home, however this number was unreachable after 5pm. After a constant hour of trying to settle my mother down we called an ambulance for assistance. After arriving at the hospital my mother was provided with additional medication to use to try and reduce these episodes in the future.

I just remember feeling so helpless and scared. I did not feel competent in my ability to manage my mother at home during this time and was not provided enough education in regard to managing any of these potential side effects. I remember thinking, how did I not ask all these questions after my mother was diagnosed before leaving the hospital.

The overall experiences we received from nursing staff varied greatly, with some aspects of her care and journey very positive, whilst I believe there were many areas that could have been improved."

Merryn’s vision as a cancer nurse is to provide consistent, high-quality care that is accessible to all. She wants to empower our nurses to provide high-quality care which involves patients in their treatment and management. Merryn’s goal is for her unit to be able to provide high quality education and care to all their patients, ensuring that they understand how to manage any situations that may arise during their journey.