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The Education in Nursing, Midwifery and Health Science Research Group (ENMHSRG) is committed to engaging in rigorous educational research. This research inform the development of quality research evidence to inform and enhance teaching and learning practices within the School and contributes to the body of knowledge about educational practices in nursing and midwifery locally, nationally and internationally. The group is formed around research interest and strengths in the area of: 

  • Clinical decision-making
  • Simulation in teaching and learning
  • Clinical facilitation models
  • Assessment
  • Technologies and learning
  • Patient education

Recent activity

Mrs. Kim Gibson and Head of School Professor Carol Grech attended the 2018 Australian College of Critical Care Nurses’ Institute of Continuing Education meeting; The Future is Critical, in Sydney during June of this year. They provided a presentation titled; ‘A Virtual Reality App for Teaching’. A newly developed intensive care unit was showcased which is located in the hospital of ‘Horizon’; an online virtual city where health professionals can interact with members of the community. Using virtual reality technology, critical care nursing students can care for an obstetric patient requiring mechanical ventilation, arterial monitoring and central venous medications. During the presentation a member of the audience applied the virtual reality headset and checked the syringe of magnesium sulphate against the medication order on the patient’s chart. This demonstrated how the technology can encourage users to explore their surroundings and interact with clients and equipment, which overall enhances their learning experiences.

Current research projects

Does focused paediatric nursing education improve the confidence of Registered Nurses working in regional areas in South Australia to care for children? (2018)


  • Ms Catherine Miller
  • Mrs Kim Gibson

Project description

Registered Nurses (RNs) who work in areas that are classified as rural and remote can be exposed to certain barriers to facilitate continual professional development due to the physical isolation of their workplace. Distance from educational programs and conferences, difficulties with travelling to such opportunities and an overall lack of continuing education (CE) resources are confounding factors for this (Curran, Fleet & Kirby 2006; Fragar & Depczynski 2011; Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine 2002). A pilot program by the University of South Australia providing paediatric education to a group of Country Health SA Nurses at the Mt Barker site was conducted in March and April of this year. Research was conducted (with a pre and post survey) to assess whether the provision of this education had an influence on their knowledge and confidence when managing paediatric clients within regional South Australia, with results of this research pending. This may have implications for how CE is provided to them in terms of organizational funding and determining if this method of education delivery is an effective strategy to assist with the further development of their professional competency.

Can competence be assured?


  • Assoc Professor Rachael Vernon
  • Professor Mary Chiarella
  • Dr Elaine Papps


National Council of State Boards of Nursing (USA), Centre for Regulatory Excellence (US$57,940 / AUD$75,000)

Project Overview

This research seeks to explore the interface between professional nursing regulation and competence to practise, particularly in relation to continuing education and performance of competence and to identify whether public safety can be assured through performance of competence (perhaps something of a holy grail), or awareness of competence, or indeed incompetence.

The study builds on three previously published studies, Evaluation of the Continuing Competence Framework (Vernon, Chiarella, Papps & Dignam, 2010), Development of an international consensus model for the assessment of continuing competence (Vernon, 2013) and Associate Professor Vernon’s doctoral research Relationships between legislation, policy and continuing competence requirements for Registered Nurses in New Zealand (Vernon, 2013).

The common indicators of competence agreed by nurses and regulators alike are Continuing Professional Development (CPD), hours of practice and self-assessment against the competences. However, if these three indicators were a guarantee of competence, then arguably no-one would present as a notification for lack of competence, because all registrants are required to meet these criteria for registration renewal or recertification. In addition insight has been demonstrated to be the deciding factor for adjudicating bodies in relation to deregistration (Adrian & Chiarella, 2010; Vernon, et al., 2010; Vernon, 2013). We believe that there is a missing thread that is ‘competence awareness’ or ‘insight’. Thus the questions that remain unanswered are; can insight be identified, measured and assured, and is this preferable to the measurement of competence in clinical performance at a given point of time or in relation to the current requirements for registration, or renewal of registration / licensure / certification.


Assoc Professor Rachael Vernon (University of South Australia)



  • Dr Anne Hofmeyer
  • Dr Luisa Toffoli
  • Assoc Prof Rachael Vernon


Nurses Memorial Foundation of SA Inc (AUD$28,579)


Dr Anne Hofmeyer (University of South Australia)

Connecting for confidence:  a peer-support basic numeracy program (for medication calculations) to build confidence and connectedness for nursing students with basic numeracy and English language anxiety. 


  • Mrs Deryn Thompson
  • Dr Sandra Ullrich


University of South Australia funded Teaching and Learning Grant (2015)

Project Overview

Many beginning Health Science university students experience anxieties which may affect their student experience, psychological wellbeing and graduation potential. Two common anxieties link to numeracy skills and, for international students, English language anxiety.

A lack of basic numeracy skills are cause of ongoing concern by academic staff as numeracy levels do not reflect those assumed for beginning tertiary students. Some nursing students have limited understanding of basic numeracy concepts - multiplication, fractions, decimals, percentages, volumes and ratios which affects their ability to undertake medication calculations. Beginning international students often experience great anxiety when asked to interact with their peers, in tutorials. A pilot project in 2014 explored a possible answer to this issue, by buddying international students who were competent in numeracy, but had English language anxiety, with students who were struggling with basic numeracy skills. Face-to-face tuition by a maths tutor provided numeracy skills tuition and International students who excelled at maths, assisted the struggling students as ‘numeracy study skill leaders’ in weekly practice group activities.

For more information please visit: Connecting for Confidence Moodle site


Ms Deryn Thompson (University of South Australia)



Interested in joining the Education Research Group?

If you wish to join the Education in Nursing, Midwifery and Health Science Research Group, please submit an application via email with the following information:

  • a copy of your Curriculum Vitae
  • a statement detailing why you would like to join the Education Research Group