Post-grad nursing student receives award

After nearly 20 years working in the nursing profession, Peter Sleeth, an alumni of the La Trobe University Shepparton campus, has received the prestigious Nurses Memorial Centre (NMC) – Vivian Bullwinkel Award to complete his Masters Degree in Clinical Practice at Southern Cross University.

Peter SleethAfter graduating from La Trobe in 1992 with a Bachelor of Nursing, Peter began a career in Perioperative nursing— a nursing specialty that cares for patients who are undergoing surgery or other invasive procedures.

Currently Peter is a Clinical Nurse Specialist, in the Perioperative Suite at Goulburn Valley Health, in Shepparton and is excited to expand his knowledge in the profession with post-graduate studies.

‘This scholarship will enable me to focus on my research as part of my Master of Clinical Practice Degree,’ Peter says.

‘Essentially, my research will look at aspects of trauma surgery and the way that definitive surgical practices and antibiotics are used to prevent post-operative infection.’

A majority of this research Peter will undertake is performed in austere environments such as the war in Afghanistan, and is conducted by military surgical teams.

‘This scholarship will also help my professional career and current work as an instructor and educator on the Definitive Perioperative Nurse Trauma Course (DPNTC),’ he says.

The DPNTC is an educational opportunity for Perioperative Nurses to focus on surgical decision-making and operative techniques in the care of critically ill trauma patients in the Perioperative setting.

The Masters course aims to foster teamwork and collaboration in the multidisciplinary care of the surgical trauma patient. The unique lecture program and hands on surgical operative laboratory provides the Perioperative Nurse with increased confidence in managing a difficult trauma situation.

Jenny Doyle from La Trobe’s Department of Rural Nursing and Midwifery, Shepparton says it is important for nursing clinicians to undertake post graduate studies to build on the research that under pins nurses’ evidence based practice.

‘We are very proud of Peter’s achievements, this scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for him, Shepparton and rural nurses, as skilled clinicians in the nursing profession, provide ever increasing complexity of care for our communities,’ says Ms Doyle. 

‘I thank the Nurses Memorial Centre - as without the fore thought of those returned Military Nursing Officers, after the Second World War, this scholarship would not be possible. It is indeed, their legacy,’ Peter says.

NMC was founded in the late 1940’s as a ‘living memorial’ to Australian nurses who lost their lives in WWII. It now honours nurses who have served in any war, a non-warlike operation or humanitarian program.

Vivian Bullwinkel AO, MBE, ARRC, ED, was the sole survivor of the massacre of 22 members of the Australian Army Nursing Service who had been evacuated during the Fall of Singapore in February 1942.  Along with other Australian Army Nurses she was held a prisoner of war from 1942-1945.

Later in her career, as President of the Royal College of Nursing, Australia (1973-1974), Vivian Bullwinkel played a key role in the struggle to have nursing education moved from hospitals to universities.

The NMC perpetuates the memory of Vivian Bullwinkel by naming an annual scholarship in her honour.

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick
La Trobe University Communications Officer
T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: