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 Jones - Canberra 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: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA


Wednesday 10 July TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA

Wednesday 14 August TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA


Wednesday 11 September TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA


Wednesday 9 October TCH Auditorium 2pm-3pm:

Presenter 1: TBA


Presenter 2: TBA


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


PDS Workshops at SYNERGY

  • These workshops are targeted at the 2019 Practice Development scholarship recipients and their mentors.

PDS Workshop 1

  • Date: Thursday 14th 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

PDS Workshop 2

  • Date: Thursday 13th November 2019
  • Venue: SYNERGY Nursing & Midwifery Research Centre, Building 6, Level 3, TCH

PDS Workshop 3

  • Date: Wednesday 12th February 2020
  • 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

  • Date: Wednesday 6th May 2020
  • Venue: TBA


Page last updated on: 7 May 2019