We couldn’t be prouder of gynae-oncology nurse practitioner Shannon Philp who was today awarded the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award, along with Nicole Livingstone AO.
This prestigious award recognises outstanding contributions to improving the lives of women affected by gynaecological cancer, in Shannon’s case as a health professional and for Nicole as a member of the community.
Shannon has been providing specialised nursing care for women with gynaecological cancers for 24 years. She is Australia’s first – and to this day only – Gynaecological Cancer Nurse Practitioner. This is the pinnacle of a nursing career and the culmination of years of experience and education.
She is the first nurse to receive the award and is in eminent company with past recipients being leading gynae-oncology surgeons and medical oncologists. The award recognises Shannon’s role in every step of a patient’s treatment from diagnosis to surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, intimacy counselling, holistic care, recovery and wellness or end-of-life.
Gynaecological cancers are accompanied by unique challenges. Some can be difficult to diagnose, meaning that the cancer can be already quite advanced when it’s detected and can carry a higher risk of recurrence. A woman’s quality of life is deeply affected with issues like fertility, intimacy and body image playing a part.
Shannon is a constant support for her patients from the moment they step through the door. She helps them with the physical, psychological, emotional and social impact of the disease at every step, in the way no other specialist member of the care team does.
She is continually developing and learning and is passionate about passing her knowledge on to other nurses. And she is extremely dedicated to finding better ways to treat cancer and improve the lives of her patients through research.
Striving for better outcomes
Shannon’s achievements throughout her career are numerous. She was instrumental in establishing the Gynaecological Oncology Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Program at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in 2008 and that continues at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse today. This program helps women to recover as soon as possible after surgery. It has since been widely adopted in Australia and New Zealand as the standard of care.
As a Nurse Practitioner, Shannon is a constant point of contact for patients who are free to call her mobile number at any time. She can prescribe treatment, order and interpret investigations and refer patients, saving them a visit to the GP.
Shannon is the only nurse in Australia to run a Nurse Practitioner Clinic where patients with low risk of recurrence can have follow-up consultations. Rather than seeing the surgeon every six months, these patients have better and more appropriate access to care in Shannon’s capable, specialised hands.
She provides sexual intimacy counselling and is training to perform colposcopies, further reducing the burden on the surgical team, particularly given the rise in demand for colposcopy since the introduction of the Cervical Screening Program.
Shannon provides holistic care including health promotion and screening for other types of cancer. She covers lifestyle factors and will refer patients for exercise physiology or dietetics where needed. She discusses fertility options with her patients and provides information and support for the side effects of treatment, like lymphoedema.
Inspiring the next generation
But her impact is not limited to patients. Shannon is a role model for all nurses. She is passionate about inspiring nurses to follow in her footsteps and is dedicated to passing on her skills and knowledge to the future generation. Shannon dedicates a huge amount of time to nurse education and training in haematology and gynaecological oncology.
Shannon runs an annual education day for nurses and is a lecturer and course coordinator of Cancer and Haematology Nursing at Sydney Nursing School, The University of Sydney, for post-graduate nurses. She mentors and trains clinical nurse coordinators and clinical nurse specialists both at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and throughout the country.
She is currently being trained to perform colposcopy, a procedure requiring general anaesthetic that is usually done by registrars or resident surgeons.
Shannon holds a Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) and Graduate Certificates in Cancer Nursing and Women’s Health Nursing.
The path from discovery to practice
With a strong desire to increase the evidence base for her patients, Shannon is an active researcher with 17 publications to her name. Working in a clinical environment where research is strongly encouraged and supported has enabled her to get changes into practice faster.
Her research interests relate to the care of women with gynaecological cancers, particularly patient satisfaction and experience, quality of life and fast-track surgical care. She has been lead-author on numerous publications.
She is a member of the Cancer Nursing Research Unit, a consortium of Sydney Nursing School and the Sydney Local Health District that is dedicated to improving research capacity and skills for cancer and palliative care nurses. Shannon is on the Executive Committee of the NSW ACI Gynae-oncology Nurses’ Group.
A most-deserved accolade
Established in 2013, the Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award is named in honour of the late Jeannie Ferris, Senator for South Australia, who was passionately committed to raising awareness about gynaecological cancers. Senator Ferris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in October 2005 and passed away in April 2007.
Shannon has demonstrated unwavering commitment to improving the lives of women affected by gynaecological cancers and inspiring the nurses who follow in her footsteps. Her compassionate, patient-centred model of care underpinned by research has led to important changes in practice and demonstrably better outcomes for women.
Join us in congratulating Shannon for this very well-deserved award!
Pictured above are Dr Helen Zorbas AO, CEO Cancer Australia, 2019 Jeannie Ferris Cancer Australia Recognition Award recipients Nicole Livingstone OAM and Shannon Philp and Jeremy Ferris, son of the late Jeannie Ferris.