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UC academic awarded Australian-first degree

Amanda Jones

30 May 2017: An Assistant Professor (Clinical) in Nursing at the University of Canberra is the first in Australia to obtain a Professional Doctorate in Nurse Practitioner.

Dr Jane Frost received her degree at the University’s recent graduation ceremonies at Parliament House.

The course is the first of its kind in Australia and is designed to help nurse practitioners enter leadership positions in health care.

“The course is a fantastic opportunity for nurse practitioners who seek to transform the clinical environment with innovative practice to support the health and wellbeing of the community,” Dr Frost said.

Data released late last year by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia showed there were just 1,477 nurse practitioners in Australia.

They have a higher level of training than registered nurses and can work autonomously and collaboratively to diagnose and treat patients with a variety of acute or chronic conditions.

The Professional Doctorate in Nurse Practitioner differs from a PhD in its focus. Candidates must be qualified nurse practitioners and be researching topics related to improving clinical practice.

Dr Frost’s thesis explored the concept of patient enablement in nurse practitioner consultations from the perspectives of patients and nurse practitioners in the primary health care setting in Australia.

From this research, she developed a theoretical framework of enablement to articulate how nurse practitioners work with patients.

“Enablement is about helping patients cope, manage and understand their illness,” she said.

“In primary health care, nurse practitioners might only see patients for half an hour, and then they are expected to go home and effectively manage their condition. So, to actually equip people with the skills to do that is really important.”

Acting Dean of the Faculty of Health Professor Dominic Upton said the University was pleased to offer the innovative course.

“Nurse practitioners play a valuable role in the community by providing high-quality and accessible health care,” Professor Upton said.

“This course gives nurse practitioners the opportunity to expand their skills and contribute their knowledge to the wider health field.

“The University is proud to produce quality graduates and leading health research. Dr Frost is testament to this and I congratulate her on her success.”

Dr Frost loves teaching and is passionate about using simulation to make nursing education relevant and enjoyable. She said she will be taking her learnings back to the classroom and believes her findings are one example of the difference that expert nurses can make.

Dr Frost’s findings have been published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners.