Nurses find unique career niche in burn and trauma rehabilitation

Associate Professor Dale Edgar

17 July 2017

As the number of Australians who need treatment after debilitating burns and traumatic injuries increases each year, graduate nurses are turning to Notre Dame University’s specialised program in Burn and Trauma Rehabilitation.

Underpinned by a comprehensive clinical pedigree, specialist studies in burns and trauma may open the door to unique career opportunities for nurses looking for new challenges and to build on their surgical and medical experience.

As the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) gathers momentum, Australian health professionals will have an opportunity to establish new roles in the quest for scarless healing of mind and body for the 650,000 Australians admitted to hospital each year with serious burn or traumatic injuries.

In response to this growing need, Notre Dame University and the Fiona Wood Foundation launched an Australia-first postgraduate program (2015) in Burn & Trauma Rehabilitation to ensure nurses, can gain expertise in burn, plastic surgery, trauma management and patient rehabilitation.

Associate Professor Dale Edgar, Head of Notre Dame’s Burn Injury Research Node, said a career in post-injury rehabilitation can place nurses in a strong position to challenge traditional thinking and guide future models of management.

“Burns are a global health issue which can cause long-term personal, psychological and social trauma for survivors, their families and the broader community. More than $150 million is spent each year on providing treatment for burns patients in Australia alone, and the numbers in trauma are far greater,” Associate Professor Edgar said.

“Through the teachings in the Burn & Trauma Rehabilitation course, nurses acquire advanced skills and knowledge applicable in early injury management roles, senior clinical coordinator and rehabilitation program lead positions, in addition to roles yet to be realised in the NDIS.

“With this approach, our graduates have the potential to improve health care in any facility in the world.”

Following completion of her nursing degree in 2014, Hannah Newstead was seeking further clinical specialisation. After coming into contact with burns survivors as part of her hospital rotation, she enrolled in Notre Dame’s Graduate Certificate in Burn & Trauma Rehabilitation course to expand her knowledge in this important health discipline.

“Combining the online course work with a comprehensive practicum experience at Fiona Stanley Hospital, I was able to expand my skill set and providing healing to burns patients in intensive care and in the outpatients ward. Working alongside doctors and physiotherapists as part of an amazing team, I felt like I was able to contribute meaningfully to the rehabilitation endeavours of burns survivors,” Hannah said.

“Notre Dame’s Burn & Trauma Rehabilitation program provided me with a stepping stone to a different career pathway as a graduate nurse.”


Leigh Dawson: Tel (08) 9433 0569; Mob 0405 441 093;