Nursing scholarship supports closing the gap in immunisation

Sonja accepted her scholarship at our 2018 Annual Celebration and Awards, with RCH Auxiliaries Past President Robyn Anderson, RCH Auxiliaries President Dr Miriam Weisz and Barbara Nicoll from the RCH Auxiliaries Executive Committee

The Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship is a unique opportunity for RCH nurses, and plays an important role in supporting our vision to lead the way in paediatric healthcare.

Dame Elisabeth Murdoch generously gave her name in perpetuity in support of this scholarship and the advancement of nursing at the RCH.

Each year, the $50,000 scholarship supports an outstanding RCH nurse to further develop skills and experience by exploring innovative practices and models of care across Australia and internationally.

The 2019 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship recipient is Nurse Practitioner, Immunisation, Sonja Elia.

Since joining the RCH in 1997, Sonja has gone from strength to strength.

After choosing to specialise in immunisation in 2003, Sonja became an integral part of the RCH Immunisation Clinic, and in 2017 she became Victoria’s first Nurse Practitioner in the field of Immunisation.

With support from the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, Sonja will dedicate to her expertise to supporting some of Australia’s most at risks communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

The delivery of successful immunisation programs within Indigenous communities depends on culturally appropriate health services, and Sonja hopes to close the gap and make lasting changes to improve Indigenous immunisation for the long term.

“This scholarship enables me to travel overseas and present data at international conferences on current immunisation rates for Indigenous children at the RCH, as well as learn about colleagues’ strategies to improve this work,” she said.

“Protecting all children from vaccine preventable disease like measles and whooping cough is important, and particularly significant for vulnerable patients.

“I feel extremely privileged to have this opportunity, not only the prestige of being awarded the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Nursing Development Scholarship, but to be able to make a difference to Indigenous children’s health.

“I’m incredibly passionate about immunisation as well as the advancement of my skills, and this scholarship enables me to improve both”

Congratulations Sonja!

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