Nurse practitioner Debbie Deasey graduates with a PhD from University of Newcastle

Thirst for learning: Nurse practitioner Debbie Deasey says nursing never stays static.
Thirst for learning: Nurse practitioner Debbie Deasey says nursing never stays static.

Debbie Deasey’s career path has taken her from hospital cleaner and kitchen worker to a nurse practitioner with a PhD.

The nurse practitioner for older adults has built a rich career in health since her early days in the workforce as a cleaner and kitchen worker at the then Hastings District Hospital.

Encouragement led Dr Deasey to consider nursing as a career.

Dr Deasey was an assistant in nursing at the Central Coast while she became an enrolled nurse.

A registered nurse qualification through the University of Technology Sydney came next.

Dr Deasey worked in renal and oncology fields as a registered nurse at the Central Coast.

“It was much more responsibility and much more autonomy,” she said about working as a registered nurse.

Postgraduate study then beckoned while still working full-time.

Dr Deasey completed a Masters in Gerontology through the University of New England.

I’m naturally curious and I wanted to know what the next level was like.

Debbie Deasey

She was motivated by an enjoyment of the field, its complexity and a thirst to learn more.

“It gave me a better understanding of the anatomy and physiology of how adults age and how we should therefore care for those adults,” Dr Deasey said.

Dr Deasey moved back to Port Macquarie about 17 years ago and worked at a couple of nursing homes and community health.

She later took up a role as a clinical nurse specialist with the Port Macquarie Base Hospital aged care emergency team.

But her learning didn’t stop there.

PhD graduate Debbie Deasey after the University of Newcastle graduation ceremony at the Glasshouse.

PhD graduate Debbie Deasey after the University of Newcastle graduation ceremony at the Glasshouse.

Dr Deasey completed further study to become a nurse practitioner after encouragement from Dr Alan Forrester.

Nurse practitioners are the most senior clinical nurses in the health care system.

Dr Deasey has devoted the past 10 years attached to the emergency department and working in aged care in the community.

She treats people in the familiar environment of their homes and in aged care facilities.

“People invite me into their homes and that’s such a special feeling,” she said.

Dr Deasey’s work days could include treating someone after a fall, a patient with a chest infection or helping with pain management.

She graduated with a PhD from the University of Newcastle on February 14 after conducting a national study into nurses’ experiences of caring for older people in emergency.

Nurses reported positive attitudes to older people in emergency departments.

About 90 per cent of nurses felt there should be a dedicated aged care section in emergency departments with appropriately trained staff.

Dr Deasey surveyed metropolitan and regional emergency department nurses and also conducted interviews.

Dr Deasey acknowledged her PhD supervisors - University of Newcastle’s Professor Ashley Kable and Associate Professor Sarah Jeong.

Her career progression has been one step at a time with the support of colleagues, family and friends.

“I’m naturally curious and I wanted to know what the next level was like,” Dr Deasey said.

“You have to challenge yourself in this role.

“Nursing never stays static.”

Dr Deasey said she still had so much to learn.

She advises others looking to pursue their career dream to be curious, give it a go and ask for help.

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