Louise Hoffman

I am a Palliative Care Clinical Nurse Specialist, currently based in Orange (rural) NSW and for my 4 day PEPA clinical placement I was keen to see a couple of specialist units in the Sydney metropolitan area.

My first area of interest was Motor Neurone Disease (MND), and it was arranged that I spend one day at Calvary Hospital, Kogarah and one day at Prince of Wales Hospital. MND is a challenging disease and made more so in rural NSW. The disease is rare enough that health professionals across the board get very little exposure and therefore little experience caring for someone with MND. My goal was to see what services the city units offered their patients, and to see how that could be adapted to a rural setting.

The first day I tagged along with the vivacious Patsy Pynn – Social Worker in MND. I had met Patsy on a previous occasion and value her understanding of the implications of living with MND. With Patsy I visited 3 MND patients in a variety of settings and at different stages of their disease. Her patience and understanding is inspirational.

Day Two, and I was lucky enough to be in Sydney for the POWH monthly MND clinic. This involves a diverse range of allied health and medical personnel coming together once a month to see patients with MND. The clinic is coordinated by MND (guru) CNC Margie Zoing. In just a few short hours, I felt I could walk away having had my fill of the potential of what services we can offer MND patients. I was also inspired by the care and dedication of the staff I met there.

Day Three and off to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital for the first of 2 days there looking at the workings of a Radiation Oncology Unit. My interest in Radiation Oncology is partly driven by my ignorance in the field and partly because in 2011 Orange will have its own Radiation Oncology Department and I wanted to have a better understanding of the nurses’ role within a Radiation Oncology Department.

My first day at RPAH was spent for the most part following a man through his brachytherapy treatment (for Prostate Cancer). I was amazed at the amount of preparation and personnel involved for what turned out to be a 15 minute treatment. The amount of OH & S checking involved was impressive.

My final day, still at RPAH was mostly spent observing the role of the nurse. The lovely ladies there were very patient in answering all of my questions, and taught me some very basic but effective dressing techniques for skin reactions to the radiation.

I returned home having exhausted my poor brain, but very grateful for having had the opportunity to see and do so much in such a short time.

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