Patricia Davidson and John Daly

UOW Vice-Chancellor honoured with a prestigious lifetime nursing award

UOW Vice-Chancellor honoured with a prestigious lifetime nursing award

Professor Patricia Davidson has been recognised for her contributions to cardiac nursing and transitional care, leadership in higher education and advocacy for nursing

In a testament to two remarkable nurses and UOW alumni with careers spanning over four decades, the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson and Emeritus Professor John Daly have been selected as recipients of the 2023 Nell J. Watts Lifetime Achievement in Nursing Award by the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing, commonly known as Sigma.

Sigma is an international honour society that focuses on nursing. It was founded in 1922 by six nurses at the Indiana University Training School for Nurses, and it has since grown to become one of the largest and most prestigious nursing organisations globally. The society’s mission is to advance world health and celebrate nursing excellence in scholarship, leadership and service.

The Nell J. Watts Lifetime Achievement in Nursing Award has been awarded bi-annually since 1991 to an active Sigma member who has demonstrated exemplary achievements in nursing throughout their lifetime.

This accolade acknowledges the pair’s significant contributions to the profession of nursing and is the third high-profile award they have received together. Both beginning their careers at Wollongong Hospital, they have been instrumental in the foundations of nursing at the University of Wollongong and have gone on to become internationally recognised.

“I am fortunate to have had a far-reaching and varied career, which is a testament to the career versatility that nursing can offer. But above all, I am still a nurse with a vision for a better world driven by the principles of equity and human rights. It is in Wollongong that my nursing career began and, many years later, that desire to help others and that passion for healthcare has never left,” Professor Davidson said. 

“Nursing to me is about connecting with people and doing meaningful work. It is the combination of art and science that I love. And as nursing and health leaders, we still have a lot of work to do to make the world a better, more inclusive place. To receive this award together will my lifelong friend, colleague and alumnus is very special.”

Emeritus Professor John Daly said this recognition is a wonderful day for Australian nursing.

“It’s not so common that these highly prestigious international awards are granted to Australian nurses. Australia has only had nursing as a university degree since the mid-1980s, so it is a significant achievement.”

About his friendship and professional relationship with Professor Davidson, Professor Daly said they’ve pushed each other to achieve great things since they met – on their first day of nursing training at Wollongong Hospital.

“She is an exemplary, internationally recognised leader and a huge force for good, especially in women’s cardiovascular health. A leader of that calibre has to exhibit a great vision, resilience and concern for others, all of which Professor Davidson has in abundance,” Professor Daly said.

The 2023 Australian Research Magazine has just named UOW as the lead institution for nursing, recognising the depth and breadth of expertise.

Professor Davidson’s nursing journey began at Wollongong Hospital in the mid-1970s and continued with a BA and, subsequently, an MA in education from the University of Wollongong. In 2003, she completed her PhD in behavioural sciences and committed herself to nursing research, focusing on improving cardiovascular health outcomes for women and vulnerable populations. She has also extensively studied chronic conditions, transitional care, palliative care and the translation of innovative, acceptable and sustainable health initiatives across the world.

The list of publications Professor Davidson has contributed to over the years is as vast as the number of awards and titles she has amassed. She has authored or co-authored more than 700 journal articles and has written nearly 36 book chapters. Between 2003 and 2013, Professor Davidson served as an adjunct professor and professor at multiple Australian universities before taking on the position of Professor of Nursing and Dean at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing in the US. Then, in 2021, Professor Davidson was named Vice-Chancellor and President of UOW, becoming the first woman and alumna in UOW’s history to assume that role.