Research Centre for Nursing and Midwifery

SYNERGY is the Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre based at the Canberra Hospital and is an acknowledgement by ACT Health and the University of Canberra of the need to support a research culture that encourages engagement and collaboration, achieves regular outputs in key focus areas, enhances collaboration with key stakeholders, establishes international links with other centres and develops a strong and successful cohort of higher degree research students.

Our Vision

"To become a nationally and internationally recognised centre of excellence in research that contributes to the quality, articulation and recognition of the nursing and midwifery professions and the translation of research findings into practice, education and policy."

Research Strengths

Three areas of research focus have been identified as current strengths based on research outcomes including publications in refereed journals, research income and higher degree student enrolments and capacity, and on the status and reputations of the researchers working in those areas.

• Mental Health Nursing and Psychosocial well-being

• Midwifery/Woman Centred Care

• Health workforce, education and quality outcomes

PDS Alumni
  • Wendy Alder (2017)
  • Esther Lam (2017)
  • Julianne Nissen (2017)
  • Louise Botha (2016)
  • Christine Fowler (2016)
  • Brett Jones (2016)
  • Rachel Longhurst (2016)
  • Katherine Wakefield (2016)
  • Wendy Mossman (2016)
  • Shannon Woodward (2016)
Practice Development Scholarships

Do you think a practice or process in your workplace can or should be improved? Do you want to make change happen and you need support? Consider applying for a Practice Development Scholarship (PDS) with SYNERGY!

The purpose of the PDS is to support Nurses and Midwives to undertake practice or process improvement projects within their work areas. It is essential that recipients receive ongoing support for the project from their direct supervisor, Director of Nursing or Midwifery and an academic mentor.

The aims of the PDS are to:

  • Increase the evidence base of nursing and midwifery practice.
  • Support practice or process improvements in the clinical area
  • Improve outcomes for health service users.

Who can apply for a PDS?

  • Nurses and midwives permanently employed or on long term contract with ACT Health (includes staff at Calvary Hospital Bruce).

How can the PDS be utilized?

  • The scholarship money is primarily intended to pay for back filling of recipients’ positions to allow them to undertake the project within the 12 month period.
  • It may also be used to pay for conference registration and/or poster development and printing, or other expenses directly related to the project aims.
  • It is very important that the project budget is discussed regularly between the project leader, DON/M and financial delegate, and definitely before the end of the financial year June 2019.

PD Project Academic mentors

Role of the mentor:

  • To become part of the project team
  • To attend and contribute to the PDS workshops
  • To provide guidance, support and advice to the project lead (who must be an ACT Health employee)
  • To work with the ideas of the project lead and guide the development of a feasible practice development proposal.
  • Consider projects for instance that will not necessitate HREC approval or will require no more than low risk HREC approval.
  • To support the project lead and other team members to develop skills in leadership, project management and practice development.
  • Meet with the project lead and other team members on a regular basis.
  • To assist with progressing the project to successful completion.
  • To support the project lead and team members in dissemination of project results.
  • To co-author any papers/presentations for publication with project lead as first author.
  • To review and approve progress and final reports

Applying for a Practice Development Scholarship is a two step process. First step is to submit an expression of interest. Step two is to take into account the feedback from the panel on EOI submitted and in conjunction with your academic mentor submit a full application.

What is required in an expression of interest?

  • A very brief summary of the project
  • Details of academic mentor (if available) or skills the applicant is seeking for an academic mentor

What is required in an application?

Your project proposal will include:

  • An outline of what you want to improve and the reasons why it needs to be improved.
  • A clear description of the process/method to be used.
  • A realistic scope and time frame for achieving the project aims within the PDS year.
  • A realistic budget request and justification.
  • Likelihood that the project outcomes will be sustained beyond the project period.
  • A plan to disseminate results and experiences to others.
  • Outcomes that have the potential to be transferable to other units, teams or settings.
  • The likelihood of any ethical issues within the project will be discussed with successful applicants at Workshop 1 at the beginning of the scholarship period.

Important Dates:

Next round of PDS EOI’s open on 15 February 2019 and are due by COB on 13 March to

Please note late applications will not be accepted.

Download the attached EOI form or contact SYNERGY via email for forms or for further information.

PDS application form
PDS information, guidelines and timeline


Nursing & Midwifery Grand Rounds – SYNERGY Research & Practice Development Forum

The Nursing & Midwifery Grand Rounds are held every 2nd Wednesday of the month, 2pm-3pm at the Canberra Hospital Auditorium. Each Forum will see two presenters showcasing their research on a wide variety of topics relevant to nurses and midwives. The forums also provide a fantastic networking platform with attendees from various departments across the hospital and academics from the universities. Attendance contributes one hour towards requirements of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia for continuing professional development. Refreshments are served following the presentations. All are welcome! Register at the door or via Capabiliti.

Dates for the 2019 Forums are as follows:

Wednesday 13 February TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Professor Karen Strickland - Professor Nursing, Clinical Chair

Topic: ‘Person centred care’

Presenter 2: Professor Deborah Davis - Professor of Midwifery, Clinical Chair

Topic: ‘2019 Professional Development Scholarships information session’

Wednesday 13 March TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Brett JonesCanberra Hospital Stroke Liaison Nurse

Topic: ‘Nurse led triage of stroke calls’ 

Prior to the establishment of the Acute Stroke Team at the Canberra Hospital, audit demonstrated significant delay in diagnostics, treatment and transfer of stroke patients.
Following the implementation of the team, with referrals triaged and processes initiated by nursing, a stroke nurse review of 2 years of data was conducted.
Improvements seen in the stroke call group reflected triaging by an experienced Stroke Nurse, working alongside Neurology medical staff, resulted in more timely access to diagnostic investigations, treatment and stroke unit care.  Brett will discuss the results of the quality improvement project and future directions for acute stroke nursing.

Presenter 2: Dr Sally Ferguson – Assistant Professor (Clinical) Midwifery Discipline, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra

Topic: ‘Salutogenesis: Another view of health’

Over the last 10 years, Australia’s caesarean section rate has increased approximately 1% each year. This trend has serious implications for the health of women and babies. Currently framed in pathogenesis, maternity services are in need of reframing. The theory of salutogenesis may offer a new lens as it focuses on health rather than illness.

Wednesday 10 April TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Julianne Nissen - Julianne is a registered midwife, currently employed as a Quality Officer aligned with Women, Youth & Children

Topic: ‘Centenary Hospital for Women & Children childbirth education: New curriculum design, implementation & evaluation

The design, development and implementation of a salutogenetic focus Pregnancy to Parenting program – replacing the old childbirth Education classes.  The aim of the new curriculum is for women to have an increased sense of coherence – which has been shown to improve birth outcomes and help women move towards improved mental and physical wellbeing.

Presenter 2: Associate Professor Catherine Paterson – Associate Professor of Nursing, University of Canberra

Topic: What are the unmet supportive care needs of men and their partners/loved ones affected by penile cancer?’

Catherine will present the findings of a systematic review of the empirical literature to inform implications for practice and research.

***Please note: No Forum in May due to Nurses’ & Midwives’ week

Wednesday 12 June TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Rebekah Bowman - Rebekah is a Registered Midwife with 12-years’ experience as a registered naturopath. She is a PhD candidate at the University of Canberra exploring raspberry leaf use in pregnancy.  The majority of Rebekah’s midwifery work has been providing continuity of care to women of Canberra and she is currently a Midwifery Lecturer at the University of Canberra. Rebekah is passionate about the midwifery profession and is the Council Chair of the Australian College of Midwives. 

Topic: ‘Raspberry Leaf in pregnancy: when, how much and why?’

Presenter 2: Professor Karen Strickland – Professor of Nursing, Clinical Chair, Head of School – University of Canberra

Topic: ‘Why we do research’

Wednesday 10 July TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Nikki Johnston – Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner, Calvary Clary Holland House 

Topic: ‘Inspired Project’ 

Presenter 2: Rhonda Wilson – Department of Nursing & Midwifery, University of Canberra

Topic: ‘Mental Health and Digital Health’

Wednesday 14 August TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Christine Archer – Melanoma and Skin Cancer Specialist Nurse, Canberra Hospital

Topic: ‘Improving the recognition and assessment of immunotherapy toxicities: Guides for patients, nurses and medical staff’

Presenter 2: Eleanor Miller – RN senior clinician, Older Persons Mental Health Inpatient Unit, Calvary Hospital

Topic: ‘Optimising wellness in Healthcare workers’

Wednesday 11 September TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Wendy Alder – Clinical Midwifery Manager, Birthing - Centenary Hospital for Women & Children
Wendy has worked at Centenary Hospital for Women and Children for the past seven years in Maternity & Gynaecology Outpatient Services and Birthing Suite. She has had extensive midwifery experience working in various models of maternity care and midwifery units across Australia thanks to a spouse in the Defence Force.  Highlights of her midwifery career include working in a Midwifery Group Practice in Darwin for Aboriginal Women from remote Northern Territory Communities.   
Wendy is a strong advocate for midwifery, with a particular interest in encouraging midwives to work to the full extent of the scope of midwifery practice.  She is also passionate about improving information sharing and accessibility to promote the ability of all clinicians to provide comprehensive maternity care.  Within her current managerial role, she is working to enhance the roles of the multidisciplinary team in the birthing unit and support midwifery roles within the unit to achieve comprehensive midwifery led birthing services for women of the ACT and surrounding NSW region.

Topic:  Post partum (PPH) haemorrhage– Stemming the Flow
The aim of this project was to reduce the incidence of PPH at the Centenary Hospital for Women & Children (CHWC) and Calvary Public Hospital Bruce for all vaginal births by 50% by June 2019.  Centenary Hospital for Women & Children was an outlier for all indicator measures in association with postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). Education sessions targeted all medical and midwifery staff and were combined with changes to policy, practice and documentation.  The project expanded to include Calvary Public Hospital Bruce Maternity Unit. 

Presenter 2: Professor Deborah Davis, Professor of Midwifery, Clinical Chair - University of Canberra and ACT Health Directorate

Topic: ‘Severe Perineal Trauma’

Wednesday 9 October TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: Ann Marie Dunk, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Tissue Viability Unit, Canberra Hospital - Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Canberra
Ann Marie has an extensive wound management background, and has a Bachelor of Health Science and Masters of Nursing by Research. She had conducted numerous research projects and presented nationally and internationally and has published in this field. She is an active member Wounds Australia (ACT). In 2011 she was awarded ACT Nursing and Midwifery Research Excellence and in 2015 she was awarded Australian Capital Territory Nurse of the Year.  She is a collaborative member of the Wellbeing of Wounds network and she has recently been appointed a board member of the International Skin Tear Advisory Panel, representing Australia. Currently is PhD candidate at Ghent University in Belgium.

Topic: ‘Evolution of the Tissue Viability Unit for Canberra Health Services’

Presenter 2: Dr Alison Teate –Assistant Professor of Midwifery, University of Canberra (Postponed from September)
Ali is a midwife with 30 years of clinical practice. She has a passion for enhancing quality midwifery care initiatives. This has led her to be involved in the development of many new models of midwifery care focused on women having continuity of care with a midwife throughout their pregnancy, labour and birth and into the postnatal period. She has worked in South Australia, Queensland, New South Wales and now the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
Ali is also an early career academic having completed her PhD last year. She has worked at the University of Canberra for the past seven years with her current role as Assistant Professor on Midwifery.
Throughout her career Alison has also been an active member of the Australian College of Midwives (ACM). The peak professional body for midwifery and midwives in Australia. She is the current chair for the ACT branch. Next week the ACT branch for ACM is holding their national conference with a focus on enhancing political activities of the profession and those by midwives.

Topic:  ‘From worry to hope: An ethnography of midwife – woman interactions in the antenatal appointment’
Level One evidence identifies better health outcomes for women and their newborns under midwifery continuity of carer programmes compared to standard maternity care. An Australian video ethnography study examined how knowing your midwife in a midwifery continuity of carer programme benefits mothers and babies. This study showed midwives in continuity programmes had greater opportunity to adapt their practice than the midwives in standard maternity care. When midwives adapted their practice the common feature of worry observed in the antenatal appointment was moderated, and women and midwives appeared more hopeful. Being hopeful may enable women to better manage their labours and parenting, creating improved outcomes.

Wednesday 13 November TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA


Wednesday 11 December TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

**Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer annual address

Practice Development Scholarships (PDS) 2019-20

Workshop 1

  • Date: Thursday 8 August 2019
  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

PDS Mentors & Scholars Catch up session TBA

  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

Workshop 2

  • Date: Thursday 13th November 2019 - 9.30am to 4.00pm
  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

Workshop 3

  • Date: Wednesday 12th February 2020 - 9.30am to 4.00pm
  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

PDS Mentors & Scholars Catch up session TBA

  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

PDS Workshop 4 – Presentations to Chief Nursing & Midwifery Officer

  • Date: TBC Wednesday 22 May 2020 - 10.00am to 12.30pm
  • Venue: TBA


Page last updated on: 20 Sep 2019