We consider ourselves very lucky at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to have four nurse practitioners and another three in training. Becoming a nurse practitioner (NP) is the pinnacle of a nursing career and is the result of extensive study and experience.
The NP helps each patient navigate the complex world of cancer, connecting all the various specialists, appointments and stages of treatment, while providing highly personalised, expert care. They are involved with our cancer patients at all stages from diagnosis to recovery. NPs can assess patients, prescribe treatment, order and interpret investigations and refer patients, often saving them a visit to the GP or emergency department.
Our NPs play a big role in the care of rural patients and work closely with local health professionals to coordinate patient care. They are also hugely involved in education and mentoring of future generations of nurses. Many of our NPs run specialist clinics including rapid assessment for head and neck cancer, colposcopy and post cancer sexual intimacy.
NPs have a Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) and must complete 5,000 hours of advanced nursing practice. They work autonomously and independently, rather than working under doctors. Shannon Philp, our gynae-oncology NP has completed training to perform colposcopies which helps reduce the burden on our surgical team and offers another avenue of care for patients.
Specialist nurses are the embodiment of our vision of patient-centred care and our aim is to have them across all cancer streams as well as investing in the resources that support the education and professional development of future NPs.
In honour of Keith Cox who was also the fourth cancer NP in Australia, we have set up the Keith Cox Clinical Education Fund to help us achieve this vision. The fund aims to nurture the clinical staff of the future and is supporting a number of our nurses on the path to NP.
Many of our specialist nurse positions are also funded through philanthropy and without the support of some of our major donors, we wouldn’t be able to provide this vital service.
On National Nurse Practitioner Day, we’d like to thank and celebrate our wonderful nurse practitioners Shannon Philp, Justine Oates, Sarah Davies and Fiona Gillanders as well as giving a nod to those who are working towards this incredible achievement.