The Erik Elgaard Sørensen Scholarship and its global impact on Fundamental Care


In the nursing profession, the name Professor Erik Elgaard Sørensen resonates deeply with those familiar with fundamental care practices. A revered nursing professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, Sørensen dedicated his career to elevating the profile and delivery of high-quality fundamental care. His tireless efforts paved the way for significant advancements in nursing education, research, and advocacy.

Professor Erik Elgaard Sørensen

Erik’s passion for fundamental care stemmed from a profound commitment to improving patient outcomes. He recognised the crucial role that nursing plays in the healthcare ecosystem and sought to empower nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver exceptional care. Through his leadership, Professor Sørensen established a network of hospitals and universities across Denmark dedicated to advancing fundamental care practices.

Despite his significant contributions, Professor Sørensen’s journey was tragically cut short by prostate cancer. However, his legacy continues to inspire and drive progress in the field of nursing.

Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute’s Professor Alison Kitson boasts international recognition for her research, particularly in fundamental care. Among her numerous awards and accolades is an honorary professorship at Aalborg University, where she first crossed paths and developed a friendship with Sørensen back in 2008.

Her leadership within the International Learning Collaborative (ILC) and her unwavering commitment to advancing fundamental care have forged a strong partnership between Flinders University and Aalborg University. Professor Kitson recognises the significance of honouring Sørensen’s legacy, advocating for ongoing excellence in nursing education and practice.

Thus, to honour Professor Sørensen’s memory and carry forward his vision, Flinders University and Aalborg University joined forces to establish the Erik Elgaard Sørensen PhD scholarship which facilitates joint supervision of students between the two institutions, fostering cross-cultural research and collaboration in nursing.

Dr Anne Mette Adams, a scholarship recipient from the Caring Futures Institute, has worked across both countries to establish guidelines for the non-pharmacological management of patient agitation in the intensive care unit. Her research underscores the vital role of relationship centred, holistic fundamental care for critically unwell patients, exemplifying the impactful legacy of Sørensen.

“Being an Erik Elgaard Sørensen PhD scholar was a rewarding experience for me, and I believe my Vice Chancellor Thesis Excellence award serves as a testament to the supervision I received from passionate researchers who are intellectually generous and jointly committed to improving care globally.”

Anne Mette Adams says the scholarships not only afford PhD students the opportunity to benefit from dual supervision in Australia and Denmark but also facilitates travel between the two countries, enriching the academic pursuits for the scholars involved.

“My PhD journey, involving an overseas trip to Denmark, gave me important insights into international collaboration and how we can learn from each other to produce research at an international level and with a global impact.”

The latest scholarship recipient, Alexandra Mudd, epitomises the continued dedication to the Erik Elgaard Sørensen program. Her research concentrates on integrating patient perspectives into nursing curriculum development, demonstrating a steadfast commitment to tackling tangible healthcare challenges.

‘For me, the Erik Elgaard Sørensen scholarship is a fantastic opportunity to embrace diversity of thought, experience, and culture whilst championing evidenced based Fundamental Care research. It creates a space for dialogue, critique and insight which is both stimulating and enriching. The scholarship means I get to learn from and share experiences with experts in the field.’

The additional establishment of a fellowship program through the International Learning Collaborative allows for researchers, educators, clinicians, and policymakers from different disciplines and countries to work together on developing resources and best practices for fundamental care, furthering the ambition of improving care standards globally.

Caring Futures Institute’s Dr Rebecca Feo served as the inaugural ILC Erik Sørensen Foundation Fellow for Research, with an anticipated Danish counterpart set to join later this year. Expressing her gratitude for the honour, Dr Feo emphasises Sørensen’s remarkable research acumen and his unwavering dedication to improving patient outcomes through robust research evidence.

“Erik was an exceptional researcher and his commitment to enhancing patient outcomes and experiences through strong research evidence was exemplary. I look forward to honouring this legacy and working closely with the ILC to achieve our goal of transforming fundamental care globally.”

Professor Tiffany Conroy, highlighted the significance of the Erik Elgaard Sørensen scholarship, stating, “The scholarship pays homage to Erik’s unwavering dedication to nursing… by fostering collaboration between Flinders University and Denmark, we honour his legacy and advance the field of nursing.”

The partnership between Flinders University and Aalborg University, facilitated by initiatives like the Erik Elgaard Sørensen scholarships and the ILC fellowship program, holds immense significance for the future of nursing education and practice. By providing opportunities for international correspondence and cross-cultural exchange, these initiatives equip nurses with the knowledge and skills needed to deliver patient-centred care in an increasingly globalised world.

Partnerships and initiatives such as these are instrumental in advancing nursing education and practice. By honouring Sørensen’s legacy and promoting the exchange of information between diverse cultures from different corners of the world, we ensure that his vision of excellence in nursing care continues to inspire and guide future generations of nurses.

“Erik touched the lives of many people, and not only those patients and colleagues he encountered in his home country of Denmark. Erik had a truly international presence, and many of us from all over the world feel privileged to have been able to work with Erik and have the benefit of his astute insights, perceptions, as well as his thoughtfulness and genuine humanity.”

Debra Jackson Editor-in-Chief JCN
Alison Kitson Guest Editor JCN Special Issue
Jackson, D., Kitson, A. 2020 Dedication, Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol 29, no. 11-12, pg. 1761.

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Fundamentals of Care