Dr Susanne Pearce

A passion for nursing, coupled with a love of research and a good dose of hard work, has proved the right medicine for Dr Susanne Pearce, who works as a nurse manager for research at Toowoomba Regional Hospital.

 Dr Susanne Pearce

Dr Susanne Pearce

“I originally come from Germany and, when I started studying as a mature age student initially, I hadn’t been to university for 15 or 16 years.

“But I discovered while completing my bachelor degree that I had a passion for research – it just made sense to me. It’s what I love to do.”

A graduate of USQ’s Bachelor of Nursing and Master of Nursing, Dr Pearce said USQ was the logical choice for her PhD.

“I had so much fantastic support at USQ - I loved studying there. All the nursing staff were very supportive and I now think of them as colleagues and as mentors - I just couldn’t fault it.”

Dr Pearce commenced her PhD in 2006 and graduated in September 2010.

“My topic was Healing Properties: Connection to Land and Cancer Survivorship and it basically examined the connection between nature and health and well-being.”

Dr Pearce’s interest in cancer survivorship of rural people steamed from her time at USQ’s Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health, where she worked for six years.

“I did a lot of research in rural communities and also with people with cancer, so it was a topic I had an interest and an insight in.

“My research found that all 17 participants reported a very strong connection to the land and that it was an important part of their recovery.

“The research clearly found that some people seek out support from nature or animals over humans – a dog doesn’t ask questions or question why you lost your hair.

“Some people just wanted solitude – they wanted to walk through their properties and spend time with animals and feel connections to their land.”

A recipient of the University Medal, Dr Pearce was also honoured with an Award for Excellence in Doctoral Research. She says completion of a PhD has its ups and downs, but it is worth the hard work.

“As a research student you are choosing something that no one has done – it’s an opportunity to do something unique and to spend time on a topic in depth and that is exciting, but that is only part of the journey.

“Putting a thesis together gives you other skills, like writing, analysis, critical thinking; the ability to speak to other people and gaining insight into how they think and feel – it really broadens your horizon.

“It also gives you a good insight into the literature out there and skills on how to find information. You develop networks and links and, without sounding snobbish, it’s almost like an exclusive club - it’s defiantly a highlight of your career.

“There are times that are not good and it’s not all smooth sailing, but my advice to research students is to stick it out, to stay with it, because - ultimately - it is a journey of persistence.”