Professor Brett Mitchell

Home-grown health guru’s new title

Friday, June 23, 2017
Nursing academic first to be appointed professor by Avondale

An academic whose prolific publications and competitive grants have given his infection control research national profile is the first to receive a professorship from Avondale.

Professor Brett Mitchell’s promotion from associate professor reflects: the quantity and quality of the papers he has had published—more than 50 since moving to Avondale three-and-a-half years ago; the quantity and the size of the competitive research grants he has received—eight as a chief investigator, equating to $1.2 million; and national and international recognition for his contribution to infection prevention and control—Mitchell is chair of a National Health and Medical Research Council committee revising national infection control guidelines.

The promotion is “personal recognition for a lot of hard work,” says Mitchell, Director of the Lifestyle Research Centre at Avondale College of Higher Education. More importantly, he adds, it is professional recognition by peers, “and not just by those here in nursing [the discipline in which Mitchell works] but by others inside and outside of Avondale. That means a lot.”

Mitchell’s publication and competitive grant record is impressive. He and the team he leads received a $171,000 grant from the HCF Research Foundation earlier this year for a study of antiseptic cleaning solutions that may not only help prevent catheter-associated infections in hospitals but also change national guidelines. The project is important, says Mitchell, because one of his previous studies found nearly two in every 100 patients acquire a urinary tract infection and that these infections cost an extra 380,000 public hospital bed days in Australia each year.

Mitchell is editor of peer-review journal Infection, Disease and Health and helped found the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control—he is currently a member of the college’s Research Committee.

Mitchell hopes his promotion will open up other personal and professional opportunities and increase Avondale’s profile for prospective students and academics. The professorial title may help Mitchell become lead researcher on more inter-institutional projects, for example. It may also provide a more well-defined career pathway in the Discipline of Nursing at Avondale. “Nursing can be hierarchal at times, so these kinds of things really matter in the sector,” says Mitchell.

While the promotion has only local implications for now, it may have wider implications later. “As Avondale’s first home-grown professor, Brett is an example of our growing stature in the Australian higher education sector,” says President Professor Ray Roennfeldt. He describes Mitchell as a “dedicated academic” whose promotion “is a mark of a maturing research culture at Avondale. It certainly stands as one piece of the evidence that we’re ready to step up to university college status.”

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Brenton Stacey

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Brenton is Avondale College of Higher Education’s Public Relations Officer. He brings to the role a decade’s experience as a communicator in publishing, media relations, public relations, radio and television, mostly within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific and its entities. He is also co-convenor of Manifest, an Avondale-led movement exploring, encouraging and celebrating faithful creativity.