" There is no denying that we see and hear about sad things in our work, but honestly, the resilience and positive attitude of the patients that we meet is truly amazing. "
MAY 2022: ALICE THOMPSON - WARD 3A, ASSOCIATE NURSE UNIT MANAGER
I was born and raised in Melbourne, and still live in the same area close to my family. I live with my adopted cat Maple, who I adore. Work life balance is very important to me, so on my days off I really like to find a good mix of relaxing at home, catching up with friends and family for great food, going to markets, watching good films, and reading. I travelled quite a lot throughout my twenties, with memorable places being Canada, Vietnam and Japan.
I always really loved watching medical shows growing up, and I was always particularly in awe of shows like ‘One Born Every Minute’ and ‘Call the Midwife’. I basically cry at every episode! So, when it came to choosing a career, I thought that being a midwife would be something I would love. I decided to do nursing first to build a “well-rounded” foundation, but nine years on, I am still nursing in a field I never expected. I still think about going back and studying further to become a midwife. Maybe one day!
I studied a Bachelor of Nursing at Australian Catholic University in 2011. It really was a great place to study, with great lecturers and opportunities to complete placements at amazing hospitals around Victoria. I met lifelong friends at university and have so many fond memories from that time in my life.
In my third year of university, I was assigned to do a four week placement at Peter Mac. I absolutely loved it. The nursing team in particular really left an impact on me, everyone was so welcoming and knowledgeable. My Undergraduate Clinical Nurse Educator, Simone, is someone I will always look up to and thank, as she really did play a massive part in making me the nurse I am today. She really gave me the confidence I needed during a nerve-racking time, encouraging me to apply for a graduate position at Peter Mac. She enforced key qualities in my practice; kindness, compassion, patient centred and evidence-based care.
I never thought I would be an Oncology nurse. I always thought I was too sensitive and emotional to work in such a “sad” environment. I think that’s the perception of Oncology though. There is no denying that we see and hear about sad things in our work, but honestly, the resilience and positive attitude of the patients that we meet is truly amazing.
I am an Associate Nurse Unit Manager on Ward 3A, which is the Medical Oncology Unit at Peter Mac. I have been in this role for three years now, which is really hard to believe! I really never thought I would venture into management, but I love that there is still a hands-on clinical aspect to the role. In 2018 I became a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The ward is so diverse, complex, and acute, so it is always interesting and keeps me on my toes.
I am going on nine years working at Peter Mac. I completed my graduate year here at the old hospital in East Melbourne. I spent six months in theatre and then six months on the Medical Oncology Unit. Theatre was super interesting, but at the end of my rotation I realised that the ward was where I was meant to be. For a brief time after the hospital moved to Parkville, Ward 3A was split between Medical and Surgical, but we are now solely Medical Oncology.
" A patient that sticks so well in my mind was 16 years old, with osteosarcoma. When she first arrived to us for treatment, she was so incredibly anxious and scared. Throughout the months she was with us, she really blossomed and became so confident and independent. In a time where she could have gone backwards in her development, she shone."
She came back a few months after finishing her treatment looking so well, showing us photos of her getting crowned prom queen and excitedly telling us about the pastry course she was going to start. It really was such a special moment, and one where the impact we had all made on this person’s life was so evident. It made me feel so proud.
Nursing during the pandemic was tough. As an organisation we were incredibly lucky to avoid any COVID outbreaks. I think this was always a contributor to our stress because we knew how detrimental it could be to our patient population. We were always just waiting for it to happen and didn’t want to be the reason it occurred. The biggest thing that really took a toll, and I think I can speak for many in saying this, was visitor restrictions. Having to have the same, what seemed like cruel conversations daily, really went against our compassionate natures.
Thank goodness for the whole team, because I couldn’t have got through it without them. Being able to debrief with people who understood made such a difference.
Forever grateful for my nursing colleagues.