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Meet the nurse on the frontline of Peninsula Health’s cardiology research

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After starting her career as a nurse, Julie Plunkett has spent much of her life co-ordinating research projects, most recently in the cardiology department at Peninsula Health.

“I have an enquiring mind – I’m always asking why which is how I became involved in research,” explains Julie.

“I find it very rewarding. I see things now that I was involved in the very early days and they’ve become common usage. Equally some things that I was involved in years ago were shown not to be beneficial, but that’s why we do research.”

As the cardiology research nurse at Peninsula Health, Julie is co-ordinating research projects alongside Professor Jamie Layland and other cardiologists that have the potential to make a big difference to the people of the Mornington Peninsula and also on an international level.

“We’re currently running a trial across 12 sites in Australia to investigate whether a currently approved gout medication might benefit people with coronary artery disease and who have had a heart attack,” explains Julie.

“The study is of international interest and a lot of groups around the world are currently interested in this question. The results will be important information to share world-wide.”

Julie enjoys the patient contact and also being responsible for “all levels of the nitty gritty of a trial” alongside the principle investigator.

“There is no such thing as an ordinary day,” says Julie.

“I might be doing ethics work, collecting data, speaking with a sponsor of a  sponsored trial or out on the ward speaking with patients who may be suitable to participate in the studies we are conducting  at the time.”

“I’m involved from the start if a patient agrees to be in a study right through to the follow up. Most studies go for 2-5 years so you get to know the study participants quite well.”

From day one, Julie was always drawn to working in cardiology.

“After I finished my training I was a coronary care nurse. I then started working in a Cardiac Catheter Laboratory (or Angio Suite), which I enjoyed, so I did a coronary care course to improve my knowledge of the work we did in the Cath Lab.”

“Then because I was working in the Cath Lab I developed an interest in devices and new technologies so I moved into the sales of cardiovascular devices, which led to an interest in research

After spending almost 16 years as the Cardiovascular Clinical Research Manager at Monash Health Julie decided to have a sea change and moved from the city to the Mornington Peninsula before taking on her current role at Peninsula Health.

“It’s wonderful, I’m living the dream,” says the grandmother of one.

Julie says she’d encourage other nurses to consider working in the research field.

“I’ve found working in research very interesting. There are so many opportunities out there and lots of research being done. Nurses can get involved in a variety of research in many different clinical fields.   

Cardiovascular Unit

Peninsula Health Cardiovascular Unit

The Peninsula Health Cardiovascular Research Unit is rapidly evolving with research interests in all aspects of cardiovascular disease, and with international expertise in the study of coronary physiology, inflammation and post-acute Coronary Syndrome (ACS) management. 

They are also involved in conducting several clinical trials ranging from first-in-man device trials to commercially sponsored multi-centred trials