Member of the Moment

CNSA would like to introduce the Member of the Moment Regina Kendall (VIC)

Where do you work?
I work for the Grampians Regional Palliative Care Team at Ballarat Health Services as a Nurse Practitioner in Palliative Care

How did you get into Cancer Nursing?
I began working in cancer nursing in 1993, at Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, having been exposed to oncology in a large public hospital. It was the first environment where I felt nursing was recognised and valued for the contribution it made to patient care. Having several mentors who were great role models helped guide and support my career development in cancer nursing. A strong emphasis on post graduate nursing education empowered me to undertake further study.

What do you love most about your job?
My job allows me to work autonomously and as a team member across the region. My passion is the delivery of excellence in care to people with a life limiting illness, and my role allows me to engage with patients and their families to manage complex symptoms in many environments. I am very lucky to work with an interdisciplinary team across the Grampians region with similar philosophies to mine. I feel privileged to be able to support and empower patients and families in a variety of settings that meet their care needs.

What are some of the challenges you face?
The biggest challenge to my role is the long distances I travel to assess and manage complex patient care. Our region covers 48,000 square kilometres and services a population of 250,000 people. This impacts on time, but innovative technologies, such as videoconferencing, support us to “see” more patients. The acceptance and understanding of Nurse Practitioner roles across health care and in communities has taken a long time to be established and accepted. This remains a challenge in regional and rural areas.

What are the skills you need for your role?
As a Nurse Practitioner I require advanced clinical assessment skills, an in-depth knowledge of oncology and palliative care pathophysiology, and excellent communication skills. These skills assist me to engage and support regional and rural GP’s and nurses, in managing patients with complex symptoms and end of life care.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to a junior nurse who wants to gain the skills to work in a similar role?
Valuing what nursing brings to patient centred care is imperative, as an informed, educated nursing workforce leads to innovative outcomes for patients and families. Hard work, ongoing education and training, a desire to lead through mentoring and education, and exploring dynamic changes in nursing practice through research, all contribute to the development of advanced practice roles in cancer nursing. It is not an easy journey but is incredibly worthwhile when your focus remains resolute on improving patient outcomes.

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