Home' InDaily : 28th June 2012 Contents Vol23No2Winter2012|5
Teaching and Learning
A midwife and pregnant woman
First course to prepare midwives to prescribe
Game aims to develop an ear for drugs
Flinders University is to offer the first course
in Australia to educate and accredit midwives
in the prescription of a range of drugs for
the women and infants they care for.
The full-time, one-semester graduate
certificate course, which can also be
undertaken remotely and part-time, will
provide eligible midwives with education
and training in the practical, legal and
ethical aspects of pharmaceutical
prescription for treating women before,
during and after childbirth.
The Dean of Nursing and Midwifery,
Professor Paul Arbon, said the Flinders
course, which was developed in consultation
with the Department of Health and Ageing,
is the first course of its kind to be endorsed
by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery
and Accreditation Council.
“While the Federal Government passed
legislation to enable prescription of
appropriate drugs by midwives some time
ago, this is the first course to meet the
stringent requirements for providing a
qualification that will afford a new degree of
autonomy for experienced, qualified
midwives,” Professor Arbon said.
He said that the ability of midwives to
prescribe drugs independently of medical
practitioners will be especially valuable in
rural centres and remote areas.
“We are pleased and
excited about the
course and its
potential, and also
Pauline Glover, who
development of the
said the course
brings together a
number of topics
that will equip
of diagnosis and of
monitoring of an
of medications commonly required by
women during pregnancy and childbirth
and in post-natal care.
“The course puts together a topic on
investigations and diagnostics alongside a
topic on pharmacology, because you can’t
prescribe safely or effectively until you
know the results of testing,” Associate
Professor Glover said.
To be eligible to undertake the course,
midwives have to be qualified and have
three years of post-registration experience.
A computer game designed by staff from
Flinders University will help student
nurses avoid potentially life-threatening
Medicina – an online game created by
School of Nursing and Midwifery staff
members Dr Amanda Muller, Gregory
Mathews and Didy Button to boost
student nurses’ knowledge of medication
names – was one of five projects
nominated for the Innovation in Nursing
prize at the 2012 HESTA Australian
Medicina, which simulates the
distractions and urgency of a real hospital
environment, targets listening and
reading skills to improve the accuracy of
drug orders taken over the phone, help
students to identify the right drug on the
medicine shelf and to use good
communication skills in handover.
Dr Muller said Medicina was developed to
reduce instances of medication confusion
that could potentially leave lives at risk.
“There are many reasons why medications
get confused; sometimes it’s because the
nurse has misheard a drug name or can’t
read someone else’s handwriting, and
other times it’s because they have trouble
with pronunciation,” Dr Muller said.
“Some medications are uncommon, and
while students are likely to see the word
written during their degrees, they rarely get
to hear the word spoken aloud,” she said.
“Medicina uses a number of different
animated features to replicate a real
clinical setting, including time limitations,
to best prepare students for the real deal.”
Originally devised to support nursing
students with English as a second
language, Dr Muller said native English
speakers also often need help to
familiarise themselves with drug names.
“Our research has shown that Medicina
not only boosts a nurse’s knowledge of
uncommon words but also teaches them
new listening skills and improves their
overall ability to retain specific
information in hard listening
environments,” she said.
The team hopes to turn Medicina into a
phone application and include additional
stages with varying levels of difficulty so
students, new nurses and established
professionals can hone their skills.
“This course is designed to give midwives
autonomy and responsibility, but within
their scope of practice,” Associate
Professor Glover said.
The School anticipates strong initial
demand for the course from eligible
midwives currently in the system waiting
to obtain the qualification, estimated to
be close to 250 nationally.
By knowing the pumping rate required to
maintain a constant level of water in the
stream, the researchers could deduce how
much water infiltrated from the stream and
potentially recharged the aquifer
Dr Battle-Aguilar said it was crucial to
understand the infiltration rate from rivers to
prevent “overexploitation” of aquifers.
“Knowing how much recharge occurs from rivers
to aquifers helps us to determine how much we
‘earn’ and this in turn can guide how much we
should be ‘spending’ from our ‘water budget’.”
New blood for artificial joint research
Hip and knee replacements are becoming
increasingly common in the ageing world,
yet most artificial implants have a limited
lifespan due to gradual wear and tear.
Understanding why some joint implants
fail and others are successful is the key
research focus of Flinders University’s new
Professor of Biomedical Engineering,
Appointed under the University’s Strategic
Professorship scheme, Professor Taylor will
use computational modelling to assess the
performance of new and existing designs
for hip and knee replacements in a bid to
reduce the risk of future failures.
“On the whole joint replacements are pretty
good; they have about 90-95 per cent
survivorship at 10 years, but that does
mean that approximately 8,000 joints fail
each year in Australia and need to be
revised,” Professor Taylor said.
“Unfortunately, we do get designs that have
a 10 per cent failure rate at five years, so
there is a real need to screen out those poor
designs before they get to clinical practice.”.
Professor Taylor said the key to his research
was to understand how the forces were
transferred from the artificial implant to
the supporting bone.
“The hip and knee joints carry very large
loads due to the combination of a patient’s
weight and the action of their muscles,”
“The expectation is that the artificial joint
will outlast the patient, which can be
20-plus years and this is a challenging
“Unlike a car, which is regularly serviced, an
artificial hip or knee joint is expected to
take millions of steps every year without
any form of maintenance.”
Before moving to Adelaide, Professor
Taylor worked for 13 years at the
University of Southampton, where he
founded and headed the Bioengineering
Sciences Research Group.
He credited Flinders’ close relationship
with the nearby medical centre and
Adelaide’s strong orthopaedics research
community as reasons for the move.
“From a professional point of view, the
environment in Adelaide is very appealing
because the orthopaedics field spans right
from the early stages of basic research to
animal facilities and clinical trials,”
Professor Taylor said.
“One of the problems with computer
work is that it can be a bit removed from
reality so hopefully I can be more involved
in the clinical studies to see whether some
of these computational models do
In South Australia’s arid landscape, rivers,
creeks and streams are vital sources of
groundwater. But National Centre for
Groundwater Research and Training
(NCGRT) researcher Dr Jordi Batlle-Aguilar
says there is virtually no accurate way of
knowing how much water seeps from
river beds into the ground because
traditional testing methods are largely
Streams in arid and semi-arid areas only
flow after heavy rain and storms, and their
water rapidly infiltrates through to
underground permeable rocks, such as
sandstone, or unconsolidated materials
including gravel and sand.
These permeable rocks and
unconsolidated materials form a natural
underground water storage system –
known as an aquifer – which saturates
and holds the water, similarly to a sponge,
so that it can be extracted in the summer
months when water is scarce, and
replenished in winter.
Dr Batlle-Aguilar said the standard
method to measure infiltration did not
give reliable estimates at the scale of
interest because it simply provided an
average for the whole river, even
though infiltration “varies greatly” from
site to site depending on soil type,
gravel content and root presence.
As part of his ongoing research, Dr
Batlle-Aguilar took his team to Pedler
Creek, an intermittent stream in the
Willunga Basin in 2011 to find a way of
measuring river infiltration that would
provide more reliable and
The team isolated an area of the creek
using two steel panels placed seven
metres apart and pumped water
continuously into the dammed section
of the creek, maintaining three constant
water levels over five days. This allowed
the team to measure infiltration over a
much larger area of the river bed than
standard approaches permit.
Getting the measure of groundwater
Professor Mark Taylor
Dr Jordi Batlle-Aguilar
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