Career advice

Crossing continents as a nurse academic

Jacqueline Bloomfield says moving between London and Australia has helped her career progress

Jacqueline Bloomfield says moving between London and Australia has helped her career progress

Jacqueline Bloomfield has maintained links with UK nursing since returning to Australia 

Although she had a highly successful career in the UK, five years ago nurse academic Jacqueline Bloomfield upped sticks and returned to Australia.

‘I loved working in the UK,’ says Dr Bloomfield, who is now director of international strategy at the University od Sydney’s nursing school. ‘But I’ve found there are more opportunities for career progression as a nurse academic in Australia.

‘Nursing education has been firmly established in the tertiary sector for longer here than in the UK, and I think nursing is more widely viewed as a profession. As a result, debates about whether nurses need degrees are not so prevalent.’

From study to specialist care

Born in Australia and with dual citizenship, Dr Bloomfield gained her nursing diploma at the University of Canberra in 1993, working in haematology and palliative care, before becoming an associate lecturer at Central Queensland University in 2000.

A year later she moved to the UK to become a lecturer in specialist care nursing at King’s College London, eventually becoming head of preregistration studies there.

‘I’ve cared for patients from birth to the end of life,’ says Dr Bloomfield. ‘I’ve also worked in different countries and at some of the world’s most renowned hospitals and universities.’

In her current role in Sydney, she directs and teaches for two programmes that the school provides in Singapore. She also coordinates international student exchanges, enabling Sydney-based students to undertake clinical placements in other countries while overseas nursing students gain experience in Sydney.

‘It’s a busy role,’ says Dr Bloomfield. ‘There’s a lot of interesting work, plus travel. I also welcome visiting international academics to our nursing school.’

Her research interests focus on two main areas. One is supportive care for patients with cancer, as well as support for healthcare professionals and nursing students in this field. As a fellow of the cancer nursing research unit at her nursing school, she is part of a team that is looking at support for adolescent and young adult patients with cancer who are transitioning to palliative care, which includes insights from both UK and Australian specialists.

Her second area of interest is nurse education and workforce development, plagiarism and academic integrity.

Practical hurdles

Dr Bloomfield retains strong links with friends and colleagues in the UK, and maintains both her nursing registration and RCN membership. ‘I plan to return to the UK if the right career opportunity arises,’ she says.

She also continues to be an honorary senior lecturer at King’s College London, recently establishing an exchange agreement for clinical placements between her former and current employers.

Academics working in Australia face some practical hurdles, she says. ‘Geographically, we’re a long way from the rest of the world. It’s much more challenging and costly to attend international conferences and events.’

For those inspired to follow in her footsteps, her advice is to do some research first.

‘Find out where you want to live. Australia is a very big country with long distances between cities. And contrary to popular belief, some parts of Australia – including Sydney – are very expensive, with property prices and living costs comparable to or even more expensive than London.’

Looking back over what she has achieved so far, she says: ‘When I started nursing I never anticipated the wonderful career I am now enjoying. It has taken me around the world, and I have met so many different people who inspire and amaze me – patients I’ve cared for, students I’ve taught and nursing academic friends and colleagues.

‘I still have many years to go and I’m excited about the future.’

Lynne Pearce is a freelance health writer

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