As a pioneer of nursing as a profession, Emeritus Professor Jeff Fuller had no way of knowing just where his studies at Flinders would take him. His journey has since been a roller-coaster that has seen him complete a Masters and PhD at Flinders and win a Basil Hetzel Award for Leadership in Public Health.
Forty years ago Professor Fuller (DipAppSc(Nurs) ’82, BNg ’89, MSc(PHC) ’94, PhD(Ng/Midwif) ’02) was at a crossroad, having just returned from a stint of overseas travel and wondering ‘where to now?’
At same time Flinders University was at the forefront of a reform in nursing training that would see it transition from a hospital-based apprenticeship to a tertiary model, equipping graduates with the theory and strategic focus to change the world of health care delivery, planning and policy.
Professor Fuller decided to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Applied Science (Nursing) at Flinders (then the Sturt College of Advanced Education) – which was one of a handful of tertiary institutions in Australia that had started to offer nursing.
“I wanted to study something that would lead to a job but also provide meaning,” he reflects.
Since graduating, Professor Fuller’s career has covered academia, clinical practice and planning of service models in cross cultural health care and chronic disease management. At Flinders his work has involved the development of community nursing roles both in Australia and China where he is currently supervising three PhD candidates.
And forty years since it’s first students graduated, nursing at Flinders is still at the forefront, pioneering new interventions, digital applications and innovative teaching to drive better outcomes for some of the most challenging and prevalent issues in the community.
“It was nothing like this when I first studied at Flinders 40 years ago,” says Professor Fuller. “The technology and the style of teaching has all changed.”
As a member of several health leadership boards and a sought after consultant on community health programs, Professor Fuller’s major focus is now on rural health. He is also passionate about better support for the elderly and people with mental health issues.
Having ‘basically retired’ several years ago, yet continuing to contribute to contribute to community health through myriad leadership roles, there’s little doubt Professor Fuller’s career choice has delivered the meaning and sense of purpose he originally desired.