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Prof Portia Jordan

Inaugural lecture:

July 25, 2023 @ 17:3018:30

To err is human: Developing evidence-based approaches for safer healthcare

Patient safety is fundamental to delivering quality essential health services that are timely, equitable and efficient. To err is human, especially with the increasing complexity in healthcare settings. Yet every year, millions of patients suffer injuries or even die because of unsafe and poor-quality healthcare. The complex challenges to safe and quality care require urgent evidence-based action.

In her inaugural lecture, Prof Portia Jordan covers three components. First, she describes the essentials of patient safety. Secondly, she offers an overview of evidence-based practice as an essential patient safety competency, and thirdly, shares a programme of scholarship examining evidence-based practices in relation to vulnerable patients on mechanical ventilation in the critical care unit. Mechanical ventilation is indicated for numerous clinical and physiological reasons. The management of the mechanically ventilated patient is multilayered, requiring highly technical psychomotor skills, advanced pathophysiological knowledge, expertise in invasive monitoring, and the implementation of evidence-based interventions through clinical decision-making. Portia discusses the safety considerations in the care of the mechanically ventilated patient using an evidence-based practice approach.

Evidence-based practice is defined as practice based on the best available evidence, including patient values and preferences as well as clinician judgment and expertise, and is ultimately aimed at implementing best practice. The application of evidence-based practice is scaffolded by the establishment of care standards and pathways, integration with nursing education, a change in practice behaviours, the measurement of impact through quality improvement processes, and maintenance of the cycle of measurement and improvement.

Using both a clinical practice and an educational lens, Portia helps build a deeper understanding of patient safety that is underpinned by evidence-based practice.


Short biography

Portia Janine Jordan obtained her diplomas in Nursing Education and Nephrology as well as the degrees BCur, MCur, MBA and PhD at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) between 1995 and 2015.

Having completed her undergraduate studies, she worked as a professional nurse and unit manager in the critical care and renal units of the Gqeberha provincial hospital as well as at Tygerberg for a total of nine years. Portia then started her academic career, returning to her alma mater as a lecturer in Critical Care Nursing and in the undergraduate nursing programme. She served in this capacity for 11 years, followed by three years heading up NMU’s Department of Nursing Science. In 2019, she joined Stellenbosch University as professor and executive head of the Department of Nursing and Midwifery. Here, she teaches and supervises in the postgraduate diploma courses, master’s and doctoral programmes, with a particular focus on evidence-based practice, critical care nursing and patient safety.

Nationally, Portia is the chair of the Forum of University Nursing Deans of South Africa (FUNDISA), a member of the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa, and a fellow of the Academy of Nursing of South Africa (ANSA). She also served on the ministerial advisory committee on Covid-19 during the pandemic.

On the international stage, she is a member of the Tau Lambda-at-Large chapter of the Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI) Honour Society of Nursing, and of the education committee of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH). In addition, Portia serves on the nursing committee of the African Forum for Research and Education in Health (AFreHealth), where she helps strengthen nursing education and professional standards and practices on our continent.

Since 2017, she has been working with a group of nursing leaders from six universities across the globe to advance patient safety education for nursing students. Her contribution revolves around quality care, global leadership and citizenship as well as cultural competencies among nursing leaders, students and educators.

Portia’s research advances the implementation of evidence-based healthcare in nursing education and clinical practice. More specifically, her work focuses on ensuring that patient safety education is underpinned by real-world healthcare evidence from complex settings such as critical care and perioperative units.



July 25, 2023

Organizer (event)

Olivia Adams


BMRi auditorium, room 1081, BMRI Building, Tygerberg campus
Francie Van Zijl Drive
Cape Town, 7505 South Africa
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