Dr Helen Courtney-Pratt

Senior Lecturer

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Career Summary


Commencing work in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Newcastle in March 2013, Helen is the Director of Clinical Education and Senior Lecturer.  Helen also maintains positions at the Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre, School of Medicine, University of Tasmania, and is a Board Member of the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Nursing and Midwifery – Tasmania),  and active member of  Practice Development Tasmania, as part of the   International Practice Development  Collaboration (IPDC). 

Working in health care since 1983, Helen subsequently completed studies commencing with BN (Hons) and completed Doctoral Studies in 2010.  Her engagement has been with health care research with a focus on action research, practice development and translation research focused on improving nursing care provided in acute and community care sectors.  More recently Helen has focused on clinical placement experiences of undergraduate s, working with both undergraduates and clinical supervisors who provide support in placement.

Helen has published in the area of COPD, Dementia and paediatric care provision, and  undergraduate clinical placement evaluation, working closely with care providers and nurses in practice. 

Research Expertise
Helen has extensive research experience in participatory action research and has worked primarily in aged care settings, community nursing and acute care areas utising the approach in order to facilitate change focused on greater alignment of practice with existing evidence. In particular Helen has experience with supporting chronic disease self management approaches by community nurses, and dementia care provision within acute care environments.

In addition Helen has high levels of experience with research in the area of clinical supervision, clinical placement and support for undergraduates in clinical placement. The approach is mulifaceted with mixed methods utilised to provide rich descriptions of the complex area. Central to any research in the area is the intention to provide information back to clinicians and tertiary providers of education drawing on action research principles to encourage and support sustainable change.

Teaching Expertise
Helen currently teaches into the Bachelor of Nursing program at University of Newcastle and is Director of Clinical Education for BN undergraduates. The position allows great synergy with her central research interests, undergraduate clinical placements. In addition Helen has supported Honours, Masters and PhD students through their journeys of Higher Degree Education.

Administrative Expertise
Helen has administration expertise on large projects, including managing grant budgets and project team organisation.

Helen has recenlty relocated from Tasmania and will maintain collaboration with two areas in particular from there. The first is the WICKING Dementia Research and Education Centre where she remains part of the larger team working toward improved outcomes of care to this group of people and in particular through the Teaching Residential Aged Care project to enhance support and education for undergraduates in residential aged care facilities. The second area is with the Quality Clinical Placement research team undertaking longitudinal studies to further understand the area of clinical placements.


  • PhD (Nursing), University of Tasmania
  • Bachelor of Nursing, University of Tasmania
  • Bachelor of Nursing (Honours), University of Tasmania


  • Action Research
  • Clinical Placement
  • Dementia
  • Nursing and Midwifery
  • Paediatric
  • Practice Development
  • Qualitative
  • Translation Research

Fields of Research

111001Aged Care Nursing25
111003Clinical Nursing: Secondary (Acute Care)20
130209Medicine, Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy55

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/03/2015 - 10/07/2015Senior LecturerUniversity of Newcastle
School of Nursing and Midwifery

Professional appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/07/2010 - 1/03/2013Clinical Nurse Educator- ResearchDepartment of Health and Human Services
Royal Hobart Hospital


For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Chapter (1 outputs)

2015Courtney-Pratt HM, 'Documenting and Reporting', Kozier and Erbs Fundamentals of Nursing, Pearson, Sydney 283-304 (2015)
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt

Journal article (15 outputs)

2015Cooper J, Courtney-Pratt H, Fitzgerald M, 'Key influences identified by first year undergraduate nursing students as impacting on the quality of clinical placement: A qualitative study', Nurse Education Today, (2015)

Background: Despite the fact that high quality clinical placement is an integral component of pre-registration nursing education for the development of the future nursing workforce, the literature identifies an ongoing struggle to 'get it right'. Objective: To examine qualitative data gathered through the Quality Clinical Placements Evaluation project to identify what pre-registration nursing students deemed helpful and not helpful influences on their first year Professional Experience Placement. Design: A total of 553 first year undergraduate nursing students from 2010 to 2012 were enrolled in the programme and all were invited to complete a validated survey to measure the quality of their first clinical placement. A total of 361 completed surveys were returned. This paper examines the data provided through open-ended questions within the survey related to most helpful and least helpful aspects of their clinical experience. Methods: An inductive analysis approach using NVIVO allowed inherent areas to emerge from the raw data forming three key themes that influenced the experience of students. Results: Feeling welcomed, individual versus team attitudes, and student expectations of supervising ward nurses were the themes identified that were perceived by the student as important to the success of learning and the quality of the experience overall. Conclusion: The findings echo previous research into the student experience of clinical placement; however the focus regarding the need for students to have a quality relationship with the supervising nurse is an area that warrants further exploration. Furthermore, we argue that students should be purposely engaged in the tertiary sector and provided guidance and strategies related to forming and maintaining relationships with those that supervise their clinical placement, in order to ensure consistent positive experiences. The outcomes from this study suggest that a missing component is teaching undergraduates how to manage relationships in clinical settings.

Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2015Levett-Jones T, Pitt V, Courtney-Pratt H, Harbrow G, Rossiter R, 'What are the primary concerns of nursing students as they prepare for and contemplate their first clinical placement experience?', Nurse Education in Practice, (2015)

Nursing students' first clinical placement experience can be a critical turning point -reinforcing professional aspirations for some, and for others, a time of emotional turbulence. There is a paucity of research focusing on students' perceptions and concerns prior to their first placement experience. Thus, the aim of this study was to explore the concerns of first year bachelor of nursing students from one Australian university as they prepared for their first clinical placement.Participants completed an online 'readiness for practice' survey consisting of 22 items. This paper focuses on participants' responses to the one open ended question: 'Please comment on any concerns that you have in relation to being prepared for your first clinical placement'. Summative qualitative content analysis was used for analysis.144 students (55%) responded to the open ended question. Responses were categorised into six themes including: Not prepared for placement; feeling nervous, anxious and worried; bullying and belonging; practicalities; patient safety and making mistakes; and working outside of my scope of practice.It appears that activities designed to equip students with the capacity to manage the inherent challenges of undertaking a clinical placement may sometimes have a paradoxical effect by increasing students' level of stress and anxiety. An enhanced understanding of students' concerns may help educators implement appropriate support strategies.

Co-authorsTracy Levett-Jones, Helen Courtney-Pratt
2014Courtney-Pratt H, Fitzgerald M, Ford K, Johnson C, Wills K, 'Development and reliability testing of the quality clinical placement evaluation tool', JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NURSING, 23 504-514 (2014)
DOI10.1111/jocn.12158Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2014Ford K, Courtney-Pratt H, Tesch L, Johnson C, 'More than just clowns - Clown Doctor rounds and their impact for children, families and staff', JOURNAL OF CHILD HEALTH CARE, 18 286-296 (2014) [C1]
DOI10.1177/1367493513490447Author URL
CitationsScopus - 1
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2014Courtney-Pratt H, Fitzgerald M, Ford K, Johnson C, Wills K, 'Development and reliability testing of the quality clinical placement evaluation tool', Journal of Clinical Nursing, 23 504-514 (2014)

Aims and objectives: To develop and test the content and face validity, and reliability of the quality clinical placement evaluation tool. Background: The importance of clinical experience during undergraduate nursing degrees is undisputed. To date, tools available to measure quality of clinical placements have focused on single perspectives, that of the undergraduate or that of the supervising nurse. The quality clinical placement evaluation tool was proposed to provide an assessment of clinical placement experiences informed by supervising ward nurses and undergraduate stakeholders. Design: The study employed a cross-sectional design. Methods: The internal validity of an existing instrument was evaluated by an expert panel and modified for use in the acute care sector. Surveys were completed by undergraduate students (n = 48) and supervising ward nurses (n = 47). Factor analysis was used to identify themes drawn from the literature and explore redundancy of items. Reliability was assessed using Cronbach's alpha for internal consistency and test-retest (five to seven days apart). Results: Reliability testing showed good internal consistency for the tool; test-retest reliability testing results were moderate to good for students and fair to moderate for nurses. Factor analysis identified three core themes related to supervising ward nurse responses that could also be applied to undergraduate nurses. The domains identified were the following: welcome and belonging; support to meet learning needs; and confidence and competence: reflections on learning. Conclusions: The quality clinical placement evaluation has shown statistically acceptable levels of reliability and validity for measuring the quality of clinical placement from perspectives of undergraduates and supervising ward nurses. Relevance to clinical practice: The tool provides tertiary institutions, acute care facilities, wards and individuals with the means to capture views of the quality of clinical placement which can also be used to undertake comparisons over time and between sites. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2014Ford K, Courtney-Pratt H, Tesch L, Johnson C, 'More than just clowns - Clown Doctor rounds and their impact for children, families and staff', Journal of Child Health Care, 18 286-296 (2014) [C1]

Admission to hospital is recognised as a difficult time for children and families. This study explored clown doctor activities in an acute paediatric setting and the impact their activities have on children, their families, other health professionals and clown doctors themselves. We used observation, semi-structured interviews and focus groups with children and parents and staff and clown doctors and results provide a rich description of the work of clown doctors. The major themes were 'the encounter - in the moment' of the interaction of the child and the clown doctor and 'beyond the encounter'. The findings show that the impact of clown doctor visits is experienced beyond the immediate interaction, and this has not been clearly articulated in previous studies. This study highlights the multifaceted and complex nature of the work of the clown doctors and the high level of skill required as they modify and interpret play, activities and environment based on individual need and response. © The Author(s) 2013.

Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2013Ford K, Courtney-Pratt H, Fitzgerald M, 'The development and evaluation of a preceptorship program using a practice development approach', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF ADVANCED NURSING, 30 5-13 (2013) [C1]
Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Courtney-Pratt H, FitzGerald M, Ford K, Marsden K, Marlow A, 'Quality clinical placements for undergraduate nursing students: a cross-sectional survey of undergraduates and supervising nurses', JOURNAL OF ADVANCED NURSING, 68 1380-1390 (2012) [C1]
DOI10.1111/j.1365-2648.2011.05851.xAuthor URL
CitationsScopus - 18Web of Science - 10
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Ford K, Courtney-Pratt H, FitzGerald M, 'Post-discharge experiences of children and their families following children's surgery', JOURNAL OF CHILD HEALTH CARE, 16 320-330 (2012) [C1]
DOI10.1177/1367493512448129Author URL
CitationsScopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Courtney-Pratt H, Johnson C, Cameron-Tucker H, Sanderson S, 'Investigating the feasibility of promoting and sustaining delivery of cardiac rehabilitation in a rural community', RURAL AND REMOTE HEALTH, 12 (2012) [C1]
Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Walters JAE, Courtney-Pratt H, Cameron-Tucker H, Nelson M, Robinson A, Scott J, et al., 'Engaging general practice nurses in chronic disease self-management support in Australia: insights from a controlled trial in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease', AUSTRALIAN JOURNAL OF PRIMARY HEALTH, 18 74-79 (2012) [C1]
DOI10.1071/PY10072Author URL
CitationsScopus - 8Web of Science - 7
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Walters JAE, Cameron-Tucker H, Courtney-Pratt H, Nelson M, Robinson A, Scott J, et al., 'Supporting health behaviour change in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with telephone health-mentoring: insights from a qualitative study', BMC FAMILY PRACTICE, 13 (2012) [C1]
DOI10.1186/1471-2296-13-55Author URL
CitationsScopus - 7Web of Science - 7
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Courtney-Pratt H, Cummings E, Turner P, Cameron-Tucker H, Wood-Baker R, Walters EH, Robinson AL, 'Entering a World of Uncertainty Community Nurses' Engagement With Information and Communication Technology', CIN-COMPUTERS INFORMATICS NURSING, 30 612-619 (2012) [C2]
DOI10.1097/NXN.0b013e318266caabAuthor URL
CitationsScopus - 3Web of Science - 2
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2008Robinson A, Courtney-Pratt H, Lea E, Cameron-Tucker H, Turner P, Cummings E, et al., 'Transforming clinical practice amongst community nurses: mentoring for COPD patient self-management', JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NURSING, 17 370-379 (2008) [C1]
DOI10.1111/j.1365-2702.2008.02279.xAuthor URL
CitationsScopus - 13Web of Science - 9
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2005Jessup M, Courtney-Pratt H, Robinson A, Cameron-Tucker H, Walters H, Wood-Baker R, et al., 'Cementing Pathways Home: enhancing quality of life for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)', AUSTRALASIAN JOURNAL ON AGEING, 24 A13-A14 (2005)
Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
Show 12 more journal articles

Conference (3 outputs)

Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2012Courtney-Pratt H, FitzGerald M, Ford K, Robinson A, 'People with Dementia in Hospital: A case study', 27TH INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE OF ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE INTERNATIONAL, London, ENGLAND (2012) [E2]
Author URL
Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt
2006Cummings E, Turner P, Walters H, Baker RW, Robinson A, Courtney-Pratt H, 'Pathways home project: Patient self-management and self-efficacy through the deployment of ICTs', 19th Bled eConference "eValues" - Conference Proceedings (2006)

This research-in-progress paper presents an examination of, and reflections on, the challenges of using information and communication technologies (ICTs) to support patients suffering chronic respiratory conditions to achieve increased levels of selfmanagement and self-efficacy. These research insights arise as part of the planning and on-going implementation of the Pathways Home for Respiratory Illness project (Pathways). This project seeks to assist patients with either chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or cystic fibrosis (CF) to acquire skills that empower them to comprehend and initiate action in relation to alterations in their conditions. The overall aim of Pathways is to evaluate the impact of these newly acquired skills for improving health outcomes at individual and population levels and is due for completion in 2008. Achieving benefits from the introduction of ICTs as part of processes aimed at building sustainable self-efficacy and self-management is very difficult, not least because of a desire to avoid simply replacing patient dependency on health professionals with dependency on technology. Reflections on the challenges and experiences within the project to-date illuminate some implicit assumptions underpinning existing IS models for evaluating impact in terms of adoption, usage and benefit and the end-points we presume in our system development processes.

Co-authorsHelen Courtney-Pratt

Grants and Funding


Number of grants1
Total funding$1,500

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.

20141 grants / $1,500

Fifth International Nurse Education Conference, Noordwijkerhout Netherlands, 22-25 June 2014$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Funding bodyUniversity of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine
Project TeamDoctor Helen Courtney-Pratt
SchemeTravel Grant
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
Type Of FundingInternal

Research Supervision

Current Supervision

CommencedResearch Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2013How Nurses Evaluate Their Own Practice
Nursing, Faculty of Health and Medicine

Dr Helen Courtney-Pratt


Senior Lecturer
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Phone(02) 4921 7707