Coolum Beach mother-of-four Gillian Puckeridge knows all too well the realities of juggling family and work.
The Orthopaedic Clinical Nurse Consultant, based at Nambour Hospital, was recently awarded a Wishlist Research Higher Degree worth $55,900 to undertake her PhD.
“Up until now it has been somewhat difficult trying to juggle full-time work, part-time study and family life, “ Ms Puckeridge said.
“My husband Karl passed away when he was 34 in 2010, he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six months earlier.
“At the time the kids were all aged five or under and Archie (the couple’s eldest child) was in his prep year at school. The plan had been that I would continue to work full-time and he would be the stay at home dad until the kids were a bit older.”
Ms Puckeridge said the Wishlist grant would allow her to now study in work time.
“This Wishlist research grant will allow me to continue working in the role of Orthopaedic Clinical Nurse Consultant whilst completing a PhD through the University of the Sunshine Coast part-time.
“The grant allows me to temporarily reduce my work hours by providing financial support for someone to undertake my work role.
“This means that the impact my studying has on family life will be reduced, I can spend more dedicated time with my kids and improve work life balance without compromising my ability to complete my PhD.”
Through her research, the 40-year-old hopes to develop new evidence-based protocol for anaemia detection in elderly patients.
“I’m investigating if older people who sustain a hip fracture become anaemic before surgery because of bleeding and if they do, what interventions we may be able to offer to reduce bleeding.
“The ultimate aim is to reduce risk for these patients and improve outcomes and quality of life.
“This is significant on the Sunshine Coast as we have an ageing population, the number of people admitted to hospital with a hip fracture is increasing and unfortunately the outcomes for these people are not always positive.”
“The other benefit is that if we can find a way to reduce bleeding we may be able to reduce how often we have to give a blood transfusion to these patients.”
Currently, about one-third of patients in this category receive a blood transfusion while in hospital.
“Blood is an extremely precious resource and we hope that our research will help us reduce its use in these patients.”
Ms Puckeridge described the recently awarded grant as “life-changing” both professionally and personally.
“To put it in context, I am a single, widowed, mother of four primary school age children, I work full-time, and am attempting to undertake a PhD. This support means for most of 2017, I can focus on my research.”
Ms Puckeridge’s research is expected to offer new and significant evidence to improve health care for elderly patients locally, nationally and internationally.