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Fulbright scholarship to advance trauma research

Brisbane nurse researcher Professor Leanne Aitken has been awarded a prestigious Fulbright Senior Scholarship to develop collaborative research with US colleagues in the area of trauma care.

Professor Aitken, Chair in Critical Care Nursing at Griffith University and Princess Alexandra Hospital, said the research will focus on improving pain relief and the management of sedation in intensive care and trauma patients.

“Severe, penetrating trauma such as gun shot injuries are much more common in the US, and as a result they have very experienced trauma networks and a well developed understanding of what systems make for effective trauma care.

“This is an opportunity to grow research on a multinational basis and find solutions which are potentially applicable to both health care systems,” she said.

Professor Aitken said effective management of trauma patients relied on multidisciplinary teams of medical, nursing and allied health professionals working together across the acute care continuum.

“Trauma care cannot be limited to one particular area such as the emergency department or intensive care unit.”

She said while technological advances had improved survival for many critically ill patients, there was room for improvement in long-term outcomes and quality of life.

“There is some evidence that the management of pain and sedation can affect patients’ psychological recovery. However if we can improve clinical care during the acute phase of treatment, hopefully we can also improve their long term recovery.”

Professor Aitken will visit the University of Pennsylvania for four months next year where she is looking forward to working with Associate Professor Therese Richmond, who is recognised internationally for her expertise in the field of trauma nursing.

“As the number of trauma patients in Australia is low compared to many other countries and trauma nursing is a relatively new specialty here, access to an extensive team of trauma advanced practice nurses will provide me with new insights and perspective.”

The Fulbright program is the largest educational scholarship of its kind and aims to promote mutual understanding through educational exchange. Professor Aitken is one of only four Australians to be recognised as a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2009.


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