Nurse studies PhD to write novel for teens in pain

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PhD student Julianne Mead on the USC campus at Sippy Downs

A nurse who helped establish a holistic pain management service for young people at a major Brisbane hospital is combining her professional experience and creative ambition to write a novel that connects with children who are suffering chronic pain.

Julianne Mead, 45, of Zillmere, this semester enrolled in a doctoral degree at USC to research and write a book in the Young Adult genre on adolescence and illness.

“I work with young people who have chronic pain and I am using creative writing to explore this experience and support patients and families in dealing with these challenges,” she said.

“I’m interested in the problems relating to chronic illness – reduced social interactions, family tensions, peer assumptions such as ‘you’re faking it’ – and how these affect young people at a time when they are still forming their identity.”

A nurse at the Queensland Children’s Hospital for more than 20 years, Ms Mead spent more than a decade researching and implementing a service that provides a range of treatments and management options for children with acute and chronic pain.

She said she hoped young people with chronic pain would “see themselves” in the pages of her contemporary novel.

“The story will follow the journey of a 16-year-old with chronic pain as she tries to come to terms with both the physical and emotional pain she is experiencing,” she said.

The idea to write a book crystallised for Ms Mead at the Brisbane Writers Festival a few years ago when she participated in a workshop run by USC Creative Writing academics Dr Paul Williams and Professor Gary Crew.

“I really enjoyed it and they were both fantastic presenters. They spoke about the courses up at USC and I thought they sounded great,” said Ms Mead, who has studied a nursing degree and collaborated on nursing research with other universities in Brisbane.

“I had started writing a novel and decided to complete formal education in this area for further career options.

“The degree is wonderful. I have already learned so much from my two supervisors, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing Dr Ross Watkins and Senior Lecturer in Social Work Dr Dyann Ross.

“The creative world is all new to me, as my background is in health, so it is mind-blowing to embark on this new adventure.”

 
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