Meet our Nursing Academics



James Cook University is one of Australia’s top 10 nurse educators.


Through our online postgraduate nursing degrees, you’ll connect with the country’s foremost practising and research nursing academics and teaching staff. Our academics will empower you to improve health outcomes, enrich your nursing practice and equip yourself with the skills to take your career to the next level.

Dr Tracey Ahern

Senior Lecturer


Dr Tracey Ahern is a Registered Nurse and Registered Queensland Teacher who holds a PhD (Nursing). Tracey first joined the JCU Nursing and Midwifery team in 2015 as a sessional tutor, and then secured a permanent position as a Lecturer in 2017. She combines her love of teaching, nursing and research to extend her professional practice to the higher education context. In 2018, Tracey was appointed the Deputy Course Coordinator of the online Master of Nursing. Tracey is now a Senior Lecturer and the Course Coordinator of the online Master of Nursing, leading a team of six full time academics who collaborate to maintain quality standards in postgraduate nursing education.

Tracey Gooding


Tracey Gooding is a Registered Nurse holding a Master of Nursing in education with extensive experience in both adult and paediatric intensive care. Tracey first joined the JCU Nursing and Midwifery team as a sessional academic in 2017 and later held a Lecturer position before returning to the clinical space in 2020 to take on various clinical nursing education and leadership roles. In 2022, Tracey was appointed the Deputy Course Coordinator of the online Master of Nursing. She aims to work collaboratively with the team to provide an excellent educational experience for postgraduate nursing students with content and assessments that are contemporary and authentic, empowering nurses to lead, educate and promote safe, quality evidence-based care in their own workplace.

Dr Clare Fenwick


Dr Clare Fenwick is a Registered Nurse holding a PhD in understanding the decision-making processes that underpin the self-management of persistent pain. Her clinical background includes pain management, palliative care, Indigenous health, and rural and remote nursing. Clare has worked nationally and internationally as a nursing and medical academic, spanning education, leadership and managerial sectors. In 2015, she commenced work as a JCU sessional academic, and in 2020, accepted a fulltime position as Lecturer working as a Subject Manager for the online Master of Nursing. She is a narrative and experiential educator, believing learning environments should be authentic, flexible, evidence based and target specific.

Mrs Anita Dunn


Mrs Anita Dunn is an experienced Registered Nurse, holding a Master of Nursing (Critical Care). Driven by her passion for education, she takes pride in making a difference to the education of postgraduate nurses to transform their professional practice. Anita started her career at JCU as a sessional academic in 2018 before moving into a full-time position for the online Master of Nursing as a Lecturer and Subject Manager in 2020. She is currently undertaking her PhD (Health) investigating the ways in which online postgraduate programs influence the professional practice for Registered Nurses.

Kate Hurley


Mrs Kate Hurley is a Registered Nurse with extensive experience encouraging nurses to continue their education both as a clinical nurse educator and Lecturer. Kate started her career at JCU in 2017 as a sessional academic before becoming a full-time Lecturer and Subject Manager in the online Master of Nursing in 2021. Kate holds the position of Academic Lead – Staff Development and is responsible for promoting staff development and facilitating education for the Nursing and Midwifery team at JCU. Kate is a passionate academic who has a strong focus on mentoring and empowering nurses to continue education to ensure high quality nursing practice.

Pieta Shakes


Pieta Shakes is a Registered Nurse and Credentialed Mental Health Nurse with postgraduate qualifications in mental health nursing, diagnostic genomics and higher education innovative teaching and learning. Pieta is enthusiastic about patient experience and person-centred care within our fast-paced systems and society. Committed to equity and quality, she was drawn towards research and the translation of knowledge into practice through education that nurtures curiosity and critical thinking and empowers clinicians. Pieta commenced her transition into academia in 2018 and then joined the online Master of Nursing team as a Lecturer and Subject Manager in 2022. Pieta is in the final stages of her PhD and is active within research and advocacy to improve the psychosocial outcomes of parents who receive unexpected news about the health, development or genetics of their unborn baby.

Jessica Best


Jessica Best is a Registered Nurse who joined the JCU Nursing and Midwifery Team in 2020 as a sessional academic in both undergraduate and postgraduate nursing. In 2022 Jessica was appointed as a Lecturer and Subject Manager in the online Master of Nursing. Jessica has many years of clinical nursing experience, including over a decade of general and cardiothoracic surgical intensive care in both tertiary and regional units. Jessica has worked in numerous senior clinical roles across her career including advanced practice, research, education, quality and safety, policy development, incident management, and leadership. Jessica has postgraduate qualifications in critical care nursing and education. Jessica has a passion for ensuring postgraduate education is inclusive, engaging and synchronous with the continuously evolving nursing profession.

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