Time to care: nursing scholarship harnesses data to improve efficiency and patient outcomes

Since 2009, the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship has supported nurses at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) to pursue excellence in areas including trauma informed care and clinical ethics. This scholarship is generously made possible by the RCH Auxiliaries, and this year is helping to advance the nursing workforce using data and one advanced clinical mind.  the scholarship is helping to advance the nursing workforce using data and one advanced clinical mind – Kirsten Davidson.

Kirsten has been working at the RCH for almost 30 years. She is currently a Clinical Nurse Consultant for Nursing Informatics and the Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Nursing informatics is a specialty that combines nursing with information and analytical sciences to identify, define, manage, and communicate patient data to improve care.   

She also holds a concurrent role as a Clinical Nurse Specialist on the Platypus Ward, caring for patients following surgery, including trauma, burns and orthopedic surgeries.   

Through the scholarship, made possible thanks to support from the RCH Auxiliaries and GrapeCo, Kirsten will combine her passion for both nursing informatics and excellent patient care to improve the management of nursing workloads across wards.  

The project will ensure the best possible nurse to patient allocation, while also enhancing the holistic, patient and family-centred approach to care – something that the RCH is well known for.  

“When we talk about nursing workload, what we mean is the care tasks nurses need to complete throughout their shift for their allocated patients. This includes things like medication administration, observations, and procedures such as dressing changes. Often patients who are on the same ward have very different nursing care requirements to aid in their recovery. When a patient has high care requirements, we refer to this as requiring high dependency care,” explained Kirsten.  

“It is important to be able predict and make visible the nursing workload so we can have the available nursing resources to match the care needs and ensure the safety of our patients,” she added.  

As part of her project, named Time to Care, Kirsten will investigate and adapt nursing workload scoring functionality within the EMR and look to best practice to inform a new approach to high dependency nursing care at RCH. 

It will be the first time an EMR nursing workload scoring tool has been implemented at the RCH, with the aim of using this score to inform the right combination of patients to allocate to an individual nurse or team of nurses to care for each shift.  

“What we want to do is to utilise the data in the EMR to measure the tasks nurses need to do each shift and generate a score for them. That score will then be used by our Associate Nurse Unit Managers, the nurses in charge of the ward, to allocate our nursing resources appropriately based on the predicted nursing workload for the patients we care for,” said Kirsten.  

Kirsten’s first focus will be getting the scoring right. Through the support of the scholarship, she will have the opportunity to visit overseas organisations who have successfully implemented workload scoring, as well as undertaking further study at The University of Melbourne, completing a subject on health informatics which will further support the project’s delivery.  

Kirsten is excited about the impact that her work will have on patients, families and staff at the RCH. As well as supporting nursing satisfaction, wellbeing and retention, nurses will be able to continue providing patient and family-centred care, connecting with them in ways that go beyond their physical care.  

Additionally, it will allow more capacity for mentorship and teamwork within our nursing teams, as well as informing the hospital where there is a high nursing workload for resource allocation overall.  

She is also looking forward to showcasing the power that nursing informatics can have to influence, inform and lead nursing innovation across the RCH.  

“For me personally, the support of this project is exciting because it puts nursing informatics in the spotlight. It illustrates how valuable and impactful this space can be and shows nurses that informatics can be a career path,” Kirsten said.  

“I am so grateful for the opportunity and would like to thank everyone who makes this scholarship possible,” she added.  


About the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship

First established in 2009 by the Auxiliaries Executive Committee (AEC), the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship was created to advance the fine talent of nurses at the RCH, ensuring the hospital continues to be at the forefront of world class practice.

The scholarship is named in honour of the late Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE and recognises the wonderful contribution she has made to the RCH since 1933.

It is the largest scholarship available to nurses at the RCH, and each year, one nurse is awarded this prestigious scholarship to help further develop their career and change the future of paediatric healthcare.

In 2024, GrapeCo Australia, an Australian family owned business, became the Principal Partner of the scholarship.

Learn more about the scholarship Donate to the scholarship