Health Sciences

MAWA Scholar

Faculty of Health Sciences student, Brett Mitchell is one of two inaugural recipients of the 'Babe Norman' scholarship, a nationally competitive scholarship offered by the Nurse Memorial Centre (NMC). Brett has also been fortunate to receive a grant from The Medical Advances Without Animals Trust (The MAWA Trust). MAWA's aim is to advance medical science to improve human health and treatment outcomes without using animals or animal products. The NMC grant, combined with the grant from The MAWA Trust, has enabled Brett to focus on his research by studying full time: "The support of organisations such as these is invaluable to those undertaking research degrees. I would like to take the opportunity to sincerely thank these organisations for their support and encourage others to apply for such scholarships and grants".

Brett is undertaking a PhD in the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences at ACU in Canberra where he is supervised by Professor Anne Gardner: "I am very fortunate to have Professor Gardner as my supervisor, particularly with her extensive research experience and interest and in HAI prevention and the wider nursing profession" Brett said. His studies involve two pieces of research, the first on Staphylococcus aureus bacteraemia (SAB) and the second on Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). The research on SAB examines the incidence of SAB at a population level and in doing so, explores issues such as the proportion of cases of SAB occurring outside acute public hospitals. This research is particularly relevant given the recent establishment of SAB being a health indicator, forming part of COAG agreements with States and increasingly being used a safety and quality measure for healthcare.

His research on CDI investigates 30 day mortality and the prolongation of length of stay in hospital (economic cost). The research being undertaken is novel and uses statistical methods not previously used in Australian studies on healthcare associated infections (HAIs). Brett hopes that his research will inform national policy and direction, particularly in relation to the economic cost of HAIs and the justification of resources. "Nurses are not significantly involved in health economics research. Undertaking this research will start to fill this gap and demonstrate that nurses can contribute to this area".

Brett believes that his research will continue to build the case that nurses "can and will conduct robust quantitative research that is directly relevant to advancing and informing clinical practice and national strategic policy….It is vital that nurses are involved in leading and developing national health policies."

Find out more about the MAWA Trust scholarship and the 'Babe Norman' scholarship '.