Jeanette Robertson was first introduced to the University of Edinburgh and it’s MSc in Nursing Education on a holiday to Scotland in 1979, 36 years later she considers her Edinburgh education key to her satisfying nursing career.
MSc (Nursing Education)
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Your time at the University
It was an advertisement for the MSc course in Nursing Education that first brought my attention to the University of Edinburgh during a holiday in Scotland in 1979. At the time postgraduate degrees in nursing were few and far between in Western Australia – as were the opportunities to acquire them! In the ad I saw an opportunity to build on my existing teaching and nursing qualifications in the country of my ancestors - and strengthen my career prospects as a nurse educator. I was not to be disappointed!
I worked hard at my studies during the week and was able to obtain grades better than I had ever dreamed of during my previous studies in physical education and nursing. Weekends however were all mine! I played netball for Edinburgh against other universities and enjoyed weekly trampolining sessions in the gym at the Pleasance. I still have fond recollections of crunching through the snow in the Meadows on my way to university and walking up Arthur’s Seat on a Sunday morning to enjoy the magnificent panorama.
Probably the highlight of my time in Edinburgh however was my train ride across the Forth Rail Bridge in the driver’s cabin. The sight of so many rivets in the awesome structure and the spectacular 180◦ view of the Firth of Forth will probably remain with me forever.
In the ad I saw an opportunity to build on my existing teaching and nursing qualifications in the country of my ancestors - and strengthen my career prospects as a nurse educator. I was not to be disappointed!
Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University
Postgraduate degrees in nursing were hard to come by in Western Australia in 1985 and on the promise of completing my Master’s degree, I was offered a position teaching nursing at the Curtin University in Perth even before I returned to Australia. With the advent of the Nursing Career Structure in WA in 1988 however, I left the University to take up a nursing research position at the Princess Margaret Hospital for Children (my former training hospital) in Perth. Since then I have undertaken and published several clinical research studies and mentored many other nurses as they pursue their post graduate qualifications. In 1990 I completed a postgraduate diploma in Information and Library Studies.
As Deputy Director of the state Evidence Informed Healthcare unit I have been fortunate enough to visit many of the rural and regional hospitals in Western Australia to introduce the concept of evidence informed practice to health care agencies working with fewer resources than those in the capital city. Vast distances have been travelled in reaching the target audiences in all corners of WA which can fit an area the size of Scotland 32 times into its boundaries.
As our new children’s hospital nears completion, preservation of the 106 year history of the old hospital has become the focus of my work. Revisiting the evolution of children’s health care in WA has been both interesting and at times distressing as time and again stories emerge of deaths attributed to conditions which are easily prevented controlled or cured in this day and age.
Though my giant leap across the world to live and study in a foreign country was not made without considerable anxiety, I need not have worried. Well qualified staff, passionate about their subject area ensured that my classmates and I were well prepared for our intended professional lives. It was Edinburgh University where I learned the importance of being able to state and defend my own opinion. Expert supervision during the preparation of my dissertation gave me skills to subsequently guide my own post graduate students through their research. For these reasons I am very glad I chose Edinburgh. On a personal front since my return to Australia, I have published several papers and a book. At the Sydney Olympic and Paralympic Games, I officiated at the athletics. As a volunteer at our local Zoo have enjoyed some memorable moments with the resident primates, elephants, giraffe, bears and big cats during my days spent with the keepers.
In 2008 I was awarded an OAM (like the MBE) for services to nursing and the community. Without a doubt my time at Edinburgh set me up for a satisfying career in nursing education and research
To recent Graduates: Congratulations! Graduation is a special time - after all it’s been the focus of your studies since you enrolled at Edinburgh. While graduation is special, it does not mark the end of your learning. True, the text books are gone, and trips to the library are no longer necessary, but from now your learning will be shaped by the successes, opportunities and challenges which you will encounter as you move into the work force and on with your lives.
Now is the time to establish your life goals and work to achieve them. Plan to ‘live’ a little along the way - not just work. Enjoy your successes, and learn from your experience to cope with the difficulties life may bring. Most importantly, capitalise on the opportunities which will present themselves to you. Although this may mean stepping outside your comfort zone for a while, if the cards stack up in favour of a accepting more responsibility, a career change or relocation, have the courage to do so. It worked for me.