The Hobart

Frances Donaldson

by Lily Whiting
Frances Donaldson

Dr Frances Donaldson is the Tasmanian Senior Australian of the Year for 2023, after a rewarding 64 years of working in the Tasmanian healthcare system. From a junior nurse to studying medicine, 12 years in prison health and now leading the COVID@home service, those scrubs aren’t getting hung up anytime soon.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m from Cygnet and I now live in Hobart.

Why Hobart? Hobart is where I work and where most of my loved ones live.

Tell us a little about your work? I have spent some 20 years as a nurse, rising to Director of Nursing before finishing my medicine study in 1982 and working as a GP since. I worked for 12 years as a Correction Health Practitioner in Tasmania’s prison system, and at the moment work/lead as a virtual COVID doctor in the state wide COVID@HOME PLUS programme treating people in the comfort and safety of their homes.

Since mid December 2021, we have treated more than 27,000 adults and children. This programme is an excellent Tasmanian nurse-led programme and I’ve very much enjoyed working in it for the past three years.

Congratulations on being Tasmania’s Senior Australian of the Year for 2023. Was being nominated a pleasant surprise? Being nominated and then chosen to be the 2023 Senior Tasmanian Australian of the Year was a great honor! I look forward to continuing to advocate for better health outcomes for the elderly and those who are in the prison system.

As the first female nurse accepted into medicine in Tasmania, what drives you? Yes it was such a privilege to be the first Tasmanian female nurse selected to study Medicine at UTAS and I will never stop working hard to improve the health of Tasmanians.

What are the biggest changes you’ve witnessed in healthcare? There have been so many changes in the 64 years since I first started nursing but a few developments stand out to me. Advances in antibiotic therapy, vaccinations and pharmaceutical therapies have been particularly outstanding to witness while radiology techniques like ultrasound, CT and MRI and treatments like endoscopy, laparoscopy, transplantation and antivirals have made our work as a nurse far easier and much more enjoyable for the patients we think!

What do you love doing outside work? Gardening, patchwork, reading and crosswords.

Who do you admire? Medical profes­sionals such as Victor Chan and Richard “Harry” Harris.

Favourite podcast or tv show? British Crime Drama Vera.

Secret vice? Salted caramel ice-cream.

What are you reading now? Not Dark Yet by Peter Robinson.

What gets your goat? People who are rude on the telephone.

What are your daily news/social media habits? ABC News, Facebook and Twitter.

Your favourite place for…

Breakfast: A breakfast at home – can’t beat it.

Lunch: The Den.

Dinner: Peppina.

Favourite team? West Coast Eagles.

Parting words? Be vigilant about your health, stay COVID safe and vaccinate.

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February 2024

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