Ian O'Rourke Scholarship

The Clinical Excellence Commission (CEC) is a statutory health corporation established under the Health Service Act to develop policy and strategy related to improvements of clinical quality and safety across the NSW public health system and to promote and support improvement in clinical quality and safety in public and private health services.

The CEC strives for safer care, for every patient, every time, and the Strategic Plan sets out the aims that will help us to deliver on that commitment. Safe, reliable and equitable care is at the heart of everything we do. Our vision, in partnership with hospitals across NSW, is to further develop a strong and reliable safety culture, and ensure that patients, their families and carers have a positive experience of care.

The aim of the Ian O'Rourke scholarship is to enable successful applicants to:

  • Develop expertise in evidence-based practice and policy to improve patient safety in health care
  • Network with national and international experts in patient safety who will be available for ongoing cross-national exchange and collaboration
  • Share their expertise with the CEC and relevant CEC networks or expert groups
  • Become future leaders of patient safety.

The scholarship is named in honour of the late Dr Ian O'Rourke AO, Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Clinical Excellence (2002 - 2004). Dr O'Rourke was a surgeon, educator, academic and researcher and was passionate about the work he undertook with Aboriginal communities, at the Redfern Medical Centre, in Far North Queensland, and the Northern Territory where he worked for five years.

Scholarship description

Ian O'Rourke Scholars will:

(i) Undertake a brief project of work – duration approximately 7 – 21 days – under the guidance of a local mentor. The project will be based on a patient safety challenge facing the NSW health system. It will encompass a brief literature review, a brief description of solutions implemented internationally, and recommendations for future approaches to improve patient safety, quality and equity in the NSW health system

(ii) Visit a national or international agency with expertise in the area of interest to seek input into their project and to develop collaborative links

(iii) Provide a presentation to CEC staff to share learnings from the visit that may influence and innovate the CEC's role as a specialist in safety and partner in improvement

(iv) Provide a report and presentation to the ACI-CEC Research and Education Committee (Subcommittee of the Board). The report will also be shared widely on the CEC website and may be included in the CEC Year In Review.

Application proposals must outline how they will achieve (i) and (ii) above in a project plan.

Applicants will need to have established contact with potential national or international host agency at which they would spend a significant period of their time as part of their scholarship. The scholarship may also involve other forms of professional experience including visits to relevant organisations and attendance of conferences/training courses.

While the program may include attending a conference, this does not fulfil the requirements for the agency visit part of the scholarship.

Eligibility and Conditions

The Ian O'Rourke Scholarship is open to all NSW Health employees.

Funds will be available to each scholar dependent upon the provision of a fully costed proposal. Generally this will include no more than a one month international visit up to the value of $10,000, unless a more extensive program can be justified. Depending upon the number of applications received and the value of the proposals, up to four fellowships may be awarded per annum up to a total value of $30,000.

Applicants can use the Ian O'Rourke Scholarship as a supplement to an existing or prospective scholarship. Applications seeking retrospective funding will not be considered.

Impact of COVID-19

Due to restrictions on non-essential travel, both within Australia and internationally, the request for applications for the 2020 Scholarship was suspended and future dates have not been determined.

The Clinical Excellence Commission will continue to revise this decision based on government advice and may look to alternatives to the national or international agency visit if needed.

Please check back on this website regularly for updates. Questions can be directed to the CEC Knowledge, Evaluation and Research team.