Incoming University of Wollongong vice-chancellor Patricia Davidson was in her element on Wednesday.
As a former nurse Professor Davidson felt right at home at a special International Nurses Day breakfast in Wollongong.
UOW, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD) put on the breakfast event to honour the achievements of nurses in clinical, research and leadership roles.
The annual event recognises the immense contributions made by nurses within local communities.
It also showcases the importance of nurses and the leadership potential that comes from a nursing career.
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Prof Davidson is living proof of this last point, she is taking over from outgoing UOW vice-chancellor Paul Wellings, after almost eight years as Dean of the School of Nursing at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore.
But on Wednesday she was more concerned with recognising the immense contribution of current day nurses.
"It was a really great celebration of nurses, particularly in this challenging time with COVID," Prof Davidson told the Mercury.
"We talked about some of the challenges of working with COVID, but also some of the opportunities.
"These include the increased teamwork and collegiality, the importance of leadership and having nurses' voices in decision-making tables, and to provide directions for patient care.
"It was also great to speak to and hear from the recent alumni and their paths into nursing and their future and how their careers have developed and evolved over time.
"Personally I think nursing provides many opportunities and it is a wonderful profession and a great career, particularly for many younger people, who I think have this desire for purposeful work.
"I tell you there is nothing more purposeful than having the care and the future of somebody's wellbeing in your hands."
UOW also launched its Graduate Entry Master of Nursing (Pre-registration) degree, which starts from 2022 and will be offered at the Wollongong and Liverpool campuses.
UOW School of Nursing Acting Head of School Professor Victoria Traynor said nurses make exceptional contributions across all healthcare areas.
"All around the world we are seeing nurses in highly influential positions, which we want to showcase. Following COVID-19, the public view of nursing has been elevated to unseen heights, and we want to highlight this by recognising their contributions," Professor Traynor said.
"Nurses in leadership positions can bring about change and influence future health care, especially the aged care sector where they will have a pivotal role in implementing the findings of the Royal Commission.
"The new degree will cater to the growing demand of nursing profession in Australia and students will develop both quantitative and qualitative skills among others which are crucial to the profession."
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