Media Release

Newsroom Releases 2014 April Modern nursing: analysing a changing profession

Modern nursing: analysing a changing profession
The recent history of nursing and its role into the future will be examined in an upcoming JCU public lecture in Townsville.

Modern nursing: analysing a changing profession

The recent history of nursing and its role into the future will be examined in an upcoming James Cook University public lecture in Townsville.

Professor Melanie Birks will present The past, present and future of nursing education in Australia, a Professorial Inaugural Lecture hosted by the School of Nursing, Midwifery & Nutrition on May 6.

Professorial Inaugural Lectures help develop JCU's profile in, and relationships with, the general community. Recently appointed Professors, or those Professors who have been at the University for less than three years in academic appointments, are invited to present an Inaugural Lecture.

Professor Birks said her lecture would focus on nursing as a “barometer of society”.

“Peaks and troughs in the development of the profession can be traced to major events in history,” Professor Birks said.

“Periods of war, industrial and technological revolutions and globalisation have all made their mark on the societies to which nurses provide a crucial service.

“The system of education of nurses has evolved in response to the milestones of history, thus ensuring the successful adaptation of a profession that meets the needs of the individuals and communities they serve.”

Examining nursing and how it had changed, and would continue to change, would be a focus, she said.

“This lecture will reflect on the early history of nurse ‘training’ in Australia, debate the transfer of nursing education to the tertiary sector, examine the rapid and significant changes to the regulation and education of nurses in recent years, and consider the implications for educators of nurses in the face of challenges in the decades to come.”


Melanie Birks has been involved in the teaching of nurses and other health professionals since 1993. She currently holds the position of Professor of Nursing (Teaching and Learning) with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Nutrition on the Townsville campus. Melanie has worked and researched extensively in the area of nursing education and is passionate about promoting quality and relevance in undergraduate and postgraduate nursing programs. In her current position Melanie promotes scholarship in the area of teaching and learning and has published extensively in this area. She is also recognised internationally for her work in grounded theory methodology. Melanie has co-authored four textbooks and currently has three more under development. She is a recipient of the Australian Defence Medal for her work in educating Royal Australian Air Force personnel. Melanie has spent time teaching and researching in the international environment, particularly in East Malaysia, which was the setting for her PhD research.


Date: Tuesday May 6, 2014

Time: 6.00 pm

Location: The Raffles Room, Rydges Southbank, Palmer Street, South Townsville

JCU Media Liaison: Caroline Kaurila, tel: (07) 4781 4586 or 0437 028 175.

Issued April 30, 2014