Nicole Pope on her recent Pain in Child Health postdoctoral fellowship award in Canada

Nicole Pope, a PhD candidate in the Department of Nursing at The University of Melbourne, was recently awarded The Pain in Child Health (PICH) Postdoctoral Fellowship Award in Canada.

Nicole's PICH work is based at The University of Toronto in affiliation with The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), working alongside Nurse Clinician Scientist and Nurse Practitioner, Dr. Jennifer Stinson, who leads the iOuch Pain Lab.

Nicky Pope headshot

The lab is part of the Child Health Evaluative Sciences (CHES) research program at SickKids. Nicole’s forthcoming research will focus on developing digital resources for parents of children with all types of chronic pain. Resources will be integrated into a digital platform: the Power over Pain portal (PoP) for youth, addressing the psychological health, well-being, and parenting needs of parents of children with chronic pain.

Nicole’s past work is centered around digital technology, including electronic medical records and patient portal systems to support practices in caring for children with pain. Her interest and early research in digital health had led her to a number of Dr. Stinson’s publications. Dr. Stinson is renowned for her work concerning pain and symptom management, and the use of e-health (internet) and m-health (mobile phones) technologies to improve children’s health, aligning with Nicole's research.

Dr. Stinson’s work currently focuses on supporting families of children with chronic pain, and so will be primary supervisor for Nicole's fellowship. “This is a whole other area of research that I've never looked into before. I'm really scared because I don't know anything about resources for parents,” she said. “My work has always been around digital health in kids, but I think this is what you're supposed to be, a bit scared, right? A bit of a challenged is a good thing.”

In 2022, Nicole travelled to Canada to meet Dr. Stinson, and attended a conference where she presented her work to paediatric pain researchers and established herself as an outstanding nursing researcher, passionate about paediatrics and building research collaborations across Canada. “I had the odds stacked against me [for the fellowship application] because this work is for people in Canada. But it helped that I had put myself in front of the Canadian team and I've committed to travelling to Canada a couple of times next year.”

Canada has a joint appointment model between clinician and clinician researcher whereby research work stems from a clinical space. Nicole hopes to promote a similar model in Australia. “At the moment, there’s no such thing. But in five years’ time, I want to have paved the way for a new position to instill this model of the nurse clinician scientist in a university, and in hospitals.”

Nicole plans to undertake her fellowship part-time over the course of two years, starting from 2024. You can follow Nicole’s work through her ORCID profile, LinkedIn or on X. Do also look out for her new website which is under construction.