PCA celebrates International Nurses Day 2018

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PCA celebrates International Nurses Day 2018

International Nurses Day (Saturday 12 May) recognises the vital role nurses play in the delivery of high quality care to all patients and their families. The theme for this year, ‘Nurses a voice to lead – health is a human right’, empowers nurses to lead by example to influence health policy, planning, and provision. The day also provides Palliative Care Australia with the opportunity to thank all the nurses worldwide for their tireless efforts and highlight the outstanding work of one of our very own.

Endorsed as a Nurse Practitioner (NP) in 2008 with a background in critical care nursing in Australia and the UK, Kate Reed transferred her skills into the specialty of Palliative Care. After eight years working as a NP in Community Specialist Palliative Care, delivering expert, specialist care to patients with a life-limiting illness in the out-patient setting and in their homes, Kate has recently joined Palliative Care Australia in a new role as the Nurse Practitioner Clinical Advisor.

Palliative Matters sat down with Kate to discuss her career and the importance of recognising and celebrating International Nurses Day.

What made you decide to become a nurse and what do you love most about it?

I was naturally an outgoing and inquisitive child and was always wanting to help people in any way I could. My first real exposure to nursing was when my grandfather was ill with heart failure and died quite rapidly after diagnosis. I was a teenager at the time and I can remember the real sense of relief that the nurses were making sense of the chaos going on and knew how to care for him. I have been a nurse since completing university in 1998 and I love the amazing variety of challenges it presents in career options and growth, not just in specialties but also locations. I have worked on cruise ships, on a tropical island, overseas and here in Australia. The beauty of nursing is it is a way that you can truly affect a person’s life at a critical time and make a situation that seems so fraught and difficult, a bit clearer and easier to navigate.

What do you think makes a great nurse?

I believe a great nurse is one who listens and provides advocacy for his or her patient to help navigate the issues of their illness whether it be episodic, chronic or life limiting. A great nurse doesn’t focus on the problems but instead the solutions at the bedside or at a more organisational level. A great nurse is a professional who can work with his or her team for the betterment of the individuals, the community and respond effectively to changing needs.

What are you passionate about as a nurse practitioner in palliative care?

For me it is about helping people live with their disease/s as best as they can. There is simply no better feeling as to when a patient comes to you with what appears to be an overwhelming symptom burden and often times disillusionment with the healthcare system, and with listening, understanding and impeccable assessment and planning, you can make a plan with that patient to address the issues. I always tell patients that I may not get it right the first time, but I am there with them and will follow through on our plan to meet their goals of care. I believe that my role as a clinician and now a clinical advisor in palliative care is a privileged one and my enthusiasm for making a positive impact in patients and their carers lives is what gives me the passion to keep trying to make a difference day after day.

You have had an extensive career so far, what are some of your greatest achievements?

I am very proud of the development of the Palliative Care Nurse Practitioner role at Clare Holland House (Calvary Health Care ACT) which was a new role in the community specialist team. Over eight years of working with the management, nursing, medical and allied health team, I developed a large out-patient nurse practitioner (NP) service whilst also working with the home based team and aged care consultancy team which now consists of two NPs. The NP out-patient model was created in response to a growing cohort patients in our community with urgent specialist care issues by providing complex care management clinics effectively reducing wait times and providing increased options for high level, patient centered care.

My contribution to the growth and the development of the nurse practitioner role is an ongoing career achievement. I am a strong advocate for NPs working to their full scope of practice to meet their patient and community needs and providing equitable access in care provision. I work with the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners to support NPs throughout Australia and I am the convener for the 13th Annual Conference to be held here in Canberra in September this year.

Why do you think it is important to celebrate International Nurses Day worldwide?

Nurses are the largest part of our healthcare system here and overseas. Recognising the work that nurses do as lone practitioners in remote areas, as part of a team in a busy urban center or as instruments of change in organisations and governments, is vital. We are lucky here in Australia to experience good government support, nursing leadership and governance, but that isn’t true in other countries and stopping to remember this and think about what we can do to better support these nurses is crucial. The theme of 2018 IND captures this message aptly and helps us to remember that nurses can make a difference to health outcomes for all persons.

As the new Nurse Practitioner Clinical Advisor at Palliative Care Australia, what do you enjoy most about your new role and what do you find challenging?

The last few years as a busy palliative care NP has seen me exploring ways in which I can make a difference on a larger scale. I am now working in a team that is truly aligned in pursuing a better healthcare system in Australia that supports palliative care patients, their carers and the health professionals who care for them. Whilst this new role is exciting and daunting at the same time, I strongly believe that my experience as a clinician will compliment this work and strengthen the PCA team.

What does the future hold for you?

I love being a nurse and I have always had a strong passion for making effective, appropriate and sustainable change to deliver better patient and service outcomes. I imagine a future that will enable me to work with my team on solutions to meet the challenges we will inevitably continue to face. Ideally this will result in the near future, a healthcare system that will support all patients no matter their life-limiting diagnosis type or their postcode, equitable access to palliative care services.