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Caring for patients at the end of life

Hi Everyone,

Bronte here again! Well what a journey it has been over the past four months. The highs and lows have been absolutely overwhelming and I have never laughed, cried, run, eaten and hugged people so much in my life.

Over the past four months I had been on Port Phillip Ward (orthopaedics and plastics) learning the ropes and securing my confidence in what I know and consolidating my nursing skills. The support I received on Port Phillip is second to none and I will be forever grateful for the experience I had on this busy, fast-paced ward. I learnt the absolute importance of working together with the multidisciplinary team to get people home or achieving their recovery goals. I learnt how important it is to take care of yourself and your fellow coworkers and I learnt the importance of being part of a family in the workplace and how this sense of family can turn a terrible day into one of laughter and always keep you coming back for more.

During this rotation I absolutely loved being physically, mentally and emotionally challenged every day and I was often in awe of my patients who would come in with a fracture or a complete hip/knee replacement and I would watch them walk out the front double doors within a few days. I found it particularly challenging to fit everything into my day on Port Phillip and often found myself remembering things I had missed when I got home, like making someone’s cup of tea (those cups of tea haunted me in my dreams!).

The arrival of the Electronic Health Record threw in a new challenge during the first rotation, however I picked it up quite quickly and I enjoyed being able to give back to my colleagues and help them learn how to use it.

Two weeks ago I commenced the second rotation in my graduate year. What a shock to the system that was! Not only was I the new kid on the block, I moved to a completely different type of nursing. After finally feeling comfortable (and by comfortable I mean not being completely terrified of absolutely everything everyday) in what I was doing on a surgical ward, I moved to 5FS – an oncology and acute care of the elderly (ACE) medical ward.

This ward has come with a completely new set of challenges, emotions, set of expectations and way of nursing. Coming from a ward where 8 hours in the day was never enough, I have moved to a ward where all the time in the world is never enough. Being confronted with patients who are dying and families who are going through grief and turmoil is not something I had experienced yet; and to be a part of that journey with someone’s family is an honor, a privilege and honestly extremely confronting, upsetting and emotionally exhausting.

Up to this point I have only experienced nursing to be about getting my patients cleaned, fed, mobilised, medications administered correctly and ensuring they go home or to rehab. It is now that I have experienced just how truly precious nurses are. My days still involve all of these things, but now also consist of constant emotional support, not only for patients but also for their families and friends. Finding an extra meal or extra blankets and pillows for that family member who is staying through the night sleeping on a chair next to their loved one, not forgetting that cup of tea or icy pole for a patient whose only happiness lies within these little joys in life they have left to experience and cuddling those patients who just need to have a good scream, cry and feel someone’s arms wrapped tightly around them is now what my days involve.

Dealing with these challenges day in and day out is testing, however also an honor and something not everyone is lucky enough to experience in their lives. Some days seem dark and daunting and some days are filled with sunshine and laughter, but I know all of these days are making me a better person and a better nurse and I look forward to welcoming these new experiences into my nursing career.

Thanks for reading again and I look forward to updating you all when I rotate into ED in October!



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