Nursing mentor with a global vision wins Eureka Prize

Professor Patricia Davidson. Photo: supplied

Professor Patricia Davidson. Photo: supplied

In summary: 
  • Professor Patricia Davidson, Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in the US and professor in the Faculty of Health at UTS, has won the 2016 Eureka Prize for “Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers”
  • She is an international leader in cardiac health for women and vulnerable populations and is committed to creating nurse leaders around the globe, particularly in emerging economies

From the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand to China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Middle East, there are nursing leaders whose work has been boosted by the global vision of Professor Patricia Davidson.

In the US and Australia – Professor Davidson is Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in Baltimore and professor in the Faculty of Health at UTS – nursing researchers continue to feel  the impact of her ready ear and wise counsel.

Professor Davidson, winner of the 2016 Eureka Prize for Outstanding Mentor of Young Researchers, has been supervising and mentoring doctoral and postdoctoral nursing researchers since 2003, and now counts many of those mentees among her collaborators, peers and friends.

“I like to think I set them on a journey and provide the training and resources to be able to get there. I’m on speed dial if things don’t go well, but most of the time they’re sailing away and mentoring the next generation,” Professor Davidson said.

An effective mentor needs to be a good listener, empathetic, with a vision for the healthcare of the future and what is going to take to get there, she said.

Her focus on creating nurse leaders, particularly in emerging economies, is part of her commitment to global equity in health care. She is an international leader in cardiac health for women and vulnerable populations and is Counsel General of the not-for-profit International Council on Women's Health Issues.

Michael McGrath, UTS Professor Jane Phillips and UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Australian Museum Eureka Prizes Michael McGrath, UTS Professor Jane Phillips and UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images for Australian Museum Eureka Prizes

“Nurse leaders in low- to middle-income countries are the people who are really going to change the trajectory of the health of populations,” Professor Davidson said.

“I firmly believe that the health and well-being of the world is dependent upon women – their empowerment and their position in society. That’s why I believe in nursing as a profession to do good.

“I’m never going to be Bill Gates and have the money he has to give, but what I can give is my knowledge, skills, expertise and support to create a generation that is going to make a difference.”

Professor Davidson did her nursing training in Wollongong and spent 30 years as a nurse. Before joining Johns Hopkins, she was director of the Centre for Cardiovascular and Chronic Care at UTS and professor of Cardiovascular Nursing Research at St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.

Her recognition by the Eureka Prize judges is a moment to celebrate for her chosen career, she said.

“Just to be a finalist, let alone a winner, is great for nursing and for positioning nursing as a STEM discipline – something UTS is very good at.

“I have learnt a lot from UTS about how to support women in science. Very few places put their money where their mouth is.”

UTS Professor Jane Phillips, herself the beneficiary of Professor Davidson’s PhD supervision, said her mentor’s win was richly deserved and shone a light on the important work nurses do around the world.

“High-quality researchers everywhere want to work with her, and their success can be seen in the awards, scholarships and fellowships they too achieve,” said Professor Phillips, who collected the Eureka Prize on Professor Davidson’s behalf.

“Trish is known for the energy, commitment and passion she devotes to enabling all of her students and staff to succeed and grow professionally as well as personally.”

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs said the university’s commitment to developing the careers of young researchers owes much to the tireless efforts of mentors and leaders such as Professor Davidson.

“Today's academic leaders play an instrumental role in transforming our world, not only through scientific discovery, but in mentoring the next generation,” said Professor Brungs.

“Professor Davidson’s dedication in inspiring and developing up-and-coming researchers is vital if we are to keep breaking boundaries and making a difference.”

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Health and Science