Excelling in academic and military careers

One of South Australia’s pioneering nursing and midwifery academics, Professor Annette Summers AO RFD, forged successful careers in both academic and military life.

Daughter of a naval officer, Professor Summers (DipAppSc(Nurs) ’84, BNg ’88,  MEdSt ’92, PhD(Ng/Midwif) ’96, DUniv ’16) was born in the UK on the Isle of Man at the end of World War II. In 1969 she emigrated with her young family to Adelaide where she undertook nursing training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. In 1976 she commenced midwifery training at Calvary Hospital.

In 1982 Professor Summers embarked on tertiary nursing and education studies at Flinders University, and in 1996 she was the first to graduate with a PhD from a South Australian school of nursing – which she completed just under three years. She went on to become a senior lecturer and Associate Dean in Nursing at Flinders.

In 1998 she was appointed Associate Professor and Deputy Head of School of Nursing at UniSA, where she introduced the Bachelor of Midwifery degree. Later that year she was promoted to Professor of Midwifery and Head of School of Nursing, where she remained until her retirement in 2006.

In 2016 Flinders University awarded Professor Summers with a Doctor of the University, recognising her achievements in clinical nursing, nurse education, research and health care, and with the Australian Defence Force.

Her parallel military career began in 1981 when she became an Australian Defence Force reservist and military nurse practitioner. She rose from Lieutenant to Colonel, the first nurse in the Army Reserve to achieve this rank.

Professor Summers says that one of her proudest achievements was being awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia by her adopted country in 2004, ‘for service to nursing and nurse education, to the reserve forces through the Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps and to the community.’

Author of many papers and reports, she has recently published three books on medical military history with medical colleagues.

Professor Summers’ advice to those considering a career in nursing or midwifery is to, “Embrace this profession that will get you a position anywhere in the world, working the days and hours that suit you.”

She says, “There are so many facets to health services that there is bound to be a pathway to suit your needs. It is a profession that engenders much respect, so throughout your studies and eventual practice remember that to do no harm is paramount.”

Learn more about studying Master of Nurse Practitioner at Flinders University and the Government incentives for rural and remote areas of Austral

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College of Nursing and Health Sciences Higher Degree Research (PhD) History of Nursing Nursing and midwifery

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