17 October 2015

Waltzing Matilda

SYDNEY AIRPORT, Australia—Sydney’s Qantas First Class Lounge is my favourite airport lounge in the world. Not only is it the untrammelled luxury, it is also the view. From where I’m sitting, I can see the classic outline of the Sydney skyline across a superb view of the airport with planes constantly on the move.

I have been in Australia as a guest of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle, New South Wales. My good friend and colleague, Sally Chan, PhD, RN, FAAN, invited me for the week as an international visiting research scholar. I also hold a conjoint professorship at the University.

Double happiness
The occasion for my visit is the 25th anniversary of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the university. Professor Chan describes it a “double happiness,” reflecting her Chinese heritage and referring to a very common and much loved Chinese symbol.

The week also coincided with the 2nd Australian Nursing and Midwifery Conference. Held in Newcastle, it attracts delegates from across Australia, the Far East, Southeast Asia, and Sri Lanka. My job for the week was to entertain the staff for three days with seminars on the publication process and open-access publishing. I also gave a lecture on my favourite analytical method, Mokken scaling, captured for posterity on my podcast page.

At the conference, I provided a workshop on writing for publication, which I broadcast on Periscope TV. Twenty people joined us, but I forgot to set my iPhone to save, so that was lost to posterity. I won’t repeat that mistake. Finally, at the 25th anniversary celebration, I gave the keynote address, titled “Nursing education: attitudes and evidence.” This was an important occasion for the school as the Honorable Jillian Skinner, MP, New South Wales Minister for Health, was present, along with the vice chancellor (president) of the university and the pro-vice chancellor for health.

My keynote focused on the need to maintain university level education for nurses in the face of pressure in the UK to return to the “good old days.” I was very pleased that Skinner—daughter of a nurse—made it clear that, while there is such pressure in Australia, such a return will not happen during her term of office. Before my address, we were entertained with some highly original a cappella singing, including a rendition by the university Echology choir of “Waltzing Matilda,” Australia’s unofficial national anthem.

It was not all work. On my first day in Newcastle, we visited Hunter Valley, famous for its vineyards. I tasted some of the best wines I have ever had. Apparently, you sip a little and pour the rest out, which seems like a waste to me. I slightly regretted my cabin-luggage-only policy, as I could not take any back with me. Some of my Australian family came to visit, and I ran a total of 22 miles along the waterfront this week. This was my first time in Newcastle. It will not be my last.

Yours Truly with Professor Sally
Chan in the Hunter Valley vineyards.

The smile on my face speaks volumes.

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. Comments are moderated. Those the promote products or services will not be posted.

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