Building clinical nursing research capacity has been the focus for Professor Wendy Chaboyer, a recipient of the Griffith University Vice Chancellor’s Research Leadership Excellence Award.

Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Nursing, a part of the Griffith Health Institute, Professor Chaboyer’s award is the culmination of a twelve year sustained track record of research leadership both at Griffith and in the discipline of nursing.

She said she was delighted and overwhelmed to receive the Award. “This is really the pinnacle of my career and a public acknowledgement of how I have contributed to Griffith and the field of nursing.

“My goal all along has been to continually develop nurses’ capacity for high quality research, which has never been as important as it is now. Mentoring early career researchers has been an important part of my role and I have been extremely honoured to provide mentorship to many researchers, clinicians and students.”

Originally trained as an intensive care nurse in her native Canada, Professor Chaboyer arrived at Griffith 20 years ago, coordinating the first Masters of Critical Care Nursing program in Queensland in 1994.

Leading a research grant submission

In 2002, as a response to a Griffith University call, she led a research centre grant submission, which was subsequently awarded in 2003. Named the Research Centre for Clinical Practice Innovation, Professor Chaboyer became its foundation director and remained its director until she became the Director of the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence.

Her personal area of research has focussed on patient safety and the role nurses play in improving the quality of hospital care and patient outcomes.

“My research has centred on the nurses’ role in preventing or mitigating patient risk and subsequent harm because nurses provide care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Therefore it makes sense to focus on the role nurses can play to promote patient safety.”

Professor Chaboyer said her biggest wish is to overturn the ideology saying that nurses should be trained in hospitals rather than educated as professionals in universities.

“At local, state and national level, we are seeing an increase in the very uninformed opinion that nurses would be trained best in hospitals.

“Nursing is a profession, not simply a trade. In universities, nurses are educated to become the critical thinkers and quick decision makers that they need to be in order to provide high quality patient care.

“Critical thinking is crucial to the training behind today’s nurses.”