Jude Singleton had been a pharmacist for 24 years when she caught the bug to study a Master of Business Administration at Griffith University. That led to an Honours year, and now a PhD in which Jude is investigating why health care professionals are not more engaged in sustainable practices.

“I did my research project under the supervision of Professor Malcolm McIntosh, Director of the Asia Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, because I was quite interested in sustainability and leadership,” Jude said.

“I adored doing Honours and just had to keep going,” she said.

“My PhD is about finding ways to reduce the carbon footprint of health care in Queensland, not just with regard to buildings but also the actual delivery of care.”

One of the ways Jude has identified is reducing the length of time people spend in hospital, and in the process shorten waiting times.

“The longer people stay in hospital, the greater the chance of their being exposed to serious infection, which could mean an even longer stay,” Jude said.

“This is not to say I want people to be sent home too soon, far from it,” she said.

“Under investigation is a model like the one in the UK, where patients progress to smaller care facilities, outside the hospitals, which are closer to their home and family.”

Pharmaceutical waste is another area which Jude says has enormous potential for change.

“There are no recycling bins in place in some hospital pharmacy departments, and no education around recycling,” Jude said.

“Cardboard packaging, glass ampoules, there are a lot of materials which could be recycled but which are currently incinerated, causing pollution and unnecessary cost,” she said.

“The biggest challenge is in making members of the health profession aware of these issues and getting them to consider ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the healthcare services they deliver.”

Returning to study has been a life-changing experience for Jude in many ways, including a new career. She now holds a Senior Project Officer’s position with Medication Services Queensland, a division of Queensland Health.

Jude had been intending to embark upon a PhD in Pharmacy but became so interested in her MBA study that it changed her research focus completely.

“I have become passionate about sustainability and I have thoroughly enjoyed the research journey,” Jude said.

“I think my PhD research will make a real difference, especially to climate change as public healthcare enterprises have enormous carbon footprints,” she said.