The Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship

About the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship​

The Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship offers a unique opportunity for an outstanding nurse at The Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) to further develop their career and change the future of paediatric healthcare. To date, 14 incredible nurses have been supported through the scholarship, which is made possible thanks to the RCH Auxiliaries.

First established in 2009 by the Auxiliaries Executive Committee (AEC), headed by then President, Carole Lowen OAM, 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.

Each year, this prestigious $50,000 scholarship, the largest available to nurses at the RCH, is awarded through a written and verbal presentation to a panel of nursing staff and representatives from the AEC. Each applicant’s project must demonstrate how their work will innovate practice and models of care at the RCH and enhance patient care for future generations.

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. Dame Elisabeth generously gave her name to this scholarship in perpetuity. She felt the nurses were the backbone of the hospital and should be given the opportunity to travel the world and learn from best practice. This scholarship showcases Dame Elisabeth’s ongoing commitment to the care, health and wellbeing of the children at the hospital.

In 2017, BankVic, a member owned bank that serves police, health and emergency services, as well as their families and friends, began supporting the scholarship. In 2021 they became a Principal Partner of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, a generosity that they have continued into 2023. In 2022, an endowment fund which was set up to ensure funding in perpetuity of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, reached its establishment target of one million dollars. This fund ensures that more talented nurses at the RCH will be given the chance to change the future of paediatric healthcare.

Each year, the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship Luncheon is held, not only to honour Dame Elisabeth’s legacy and the newest scholarship recipient, but to also help to raise funds for future scholarships.

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Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE with a child

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE

Sally Lima, Dr Sharon Kinney and Melissa White at the 2014 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship Luncheon

Sally Lima, Dr Sharon Kinney and Melissa Heywood at the 2014 Luncheon

Dr Sharon Kinney, Sonja Elia, Melissa Heywood, Eloise Borello, Bianca Devsam and Tania Ramos at the 2022 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship Luncheon

Dr Sharon Kinney, Sonja Elia, Melissa Heywood, Eloise Borello, Bianca Devsam and Tania Ramos at the Luncheon in 2022

The impact of the Dame Elisabeth Nursing Development Scholarship

Since 2010, the Dame Elisabeth Nursing Development Scholarship recipients have had an enormous impact across the hospital.

2023 – Kelly Light

With support from the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, Kelly will develop a trauma-informed care implementation plan specifically focusing on Ambulatory Care settings. Kelly’s work will focus on Ambulatory services, where staff are regular fixtures in patients’ lives and homes, so are pivotally placed to recognise and respond to signs of trauma. Through the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, Kelly will benchmark trauma-informed care implementation approaches by working with local and international trauma-informed care experts. Kelly will facilitate research to consider adaptations required for the local Ambulatory context before presenting her findings and recommendations. Learn more about Kelly’s work here.

2022 – Eloise Borello 

Eloise used the scholarship to improve the current model of treatment for children requiring intravenous access. Around 50 per cent of all children admitted to the RCH will require a peripheral intravenous catheter. While the use of the device is common, they are notoriously difficult to insert and maintain in children, which often leads to complications. Learn more about Eloise here.

2021 Jenny O’Neill

Jenny enhanced her leadership skills in clinical ethics to pilot a program that empowers nurses in the hospital through education in clinical ethics. As a result of the successful pilot program, Jenny will work with the Children’s Bioethics Centre to continue offering the clinical ethics course annually to RCH nurses, which will position the RCH as a leader in clinical ethics and make an ongoing difference to patient care within the hospital. ​Learn more about Jenny here.

2020 – Bianca Devsam

Bianca developed a Neonatal Pain Management guideline for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She also created educational videos to demonstrate how parents and families can be more involved in neonatal pain management by providing positive touch, skin to skin contact, breastfeeding, containment, and nonnutritive sucking with a sweet solution to their sick baby in the NICU, which help to ensure the longevity of the project interventions long into the future.​

2019 – Sonja Elia

Sonja created a culturally appropriate immunisation program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. Since her work in this area began in 2019, immunisation rates in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children at the RCH have improved by eight per cent for scheduled vaccines on the National Immunisation Program and influenza vaccination rates improved by 25 per cent.

2018 – Tania Ramos 

Tania developed best practices to minimise postoperative complications in children. The scholarship allowed Tania to develop and implement the Emergence Delirium Policy which guides both medical and nursing staff to provide best care for patients. As a result of Tania’s work, perioperative hypothermia rates have decreased in recovery at the RCH, with teams now able to actively warm all children who require post-operative warming in the unit.

2017 – Amy Johansen

Amy researched the long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes and quality of life follow-up programs for cardiac and extracorporeal life support (ECLS) patients. Since 2017 Amy’s work has evolved, with research now extending beyond ECLS, after recognising that long term follow up is important for a number of key high risk patient groups. Work is ongoing to develop a program that meets the needs of any patient who has been critically unwell, and improving patients’ care long into the future.

2016 – Donna Eade

Donna developed the clinical nurse consultant role within the RCH Gender Service, which provides world leading care to transgender children and young people at the RCH. This was the first role of its type in Australia. Through the scholarship, Donna established a Single Session Nurse Led Assessment Clinic (SSNac) to manage the Gender Service waitlist and provide early care to families and young people.

2015 – Catherine Fox

Catherine advanced the role of the neonatal nurse practitioner within neonatal emergency retrieval and care. Through her position in the Paediatric Infant Perinatal Emergency Retrieval (PIPER) team, Catherine was able to build on best practices for neonatal emergency retrieval, helping more than 1,100 critically ill newborns each year.

2014 – Melissa Heywood

Melissa researched ways to improve communication with families about palliative care. Thanks to the scholarship, Melissa has not only developed a communication training program to address best practice communication for end of life care, she has branched out to include other complex conversations health professionals have on a daily basis.

2013 – Sally Lima

Sally expanded the RCH Nursing Competency Framework. The framework continues to be the
mechanism by which nurses new to the RCH are supported to develop their competency, and findings from Sally’s work are continuously integrated across the nursing workforce at the RCH.

2012 – Dr Sharon Kinney

Sharon created patient monitoring and alarm safety practices. Using data collected from colleagues
at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Sharon integrated the data into new observation charts and implemented them across the RCH. These observational charts have now been applied across all Victorian hospitals where children and infants are present.​

2011 – Lisa Takacs

Lisa expanded the Procedural Pain Management Program across the hospital. Lisa’s work has allowed the RCH to introduce a hospital wide pain management program, giving patients at the RCH
the best possible care.

2010 – Sharon Downes

The first scholarship recipient, Sharon, researched the Pierre Robin sequence in children. Through
Sharon’s work, she was able to make an ongoing impact to the care of patients at the RCH diagnosed with Pierre Robin Sequence.

​Thank you to our Principal Partner

This wonderful scholarship is made possible thanks to our Principal Partner BankVic.

BankVic exists to strengthen the communities in which they serve. Their aim is to build healthy communities that are financially, socially and environmentally sustainable. It’s these beliefs that drive the work they do every day. They are about people before profits.