Who are we?
"Such a unique area to work in, it inspires a sense of hope in life"
The Children's Hospital at Westmead offers opportunities for enthusiastic staff to work as part of a great multi-disciplinary team in paediatric oncology. The oncology unit includes both inpatient and outpatient services, and provides opportunities for nursing staff working in the area to experience both sides of oncology nursing.
Camperdown ward is a 17 bed inpatient area, which provides routine oncology care including caring for fever/neutropaenia, chemotherapy administration and specialising in bone marrow and Stem Cell transplantation for both oncological and haematological disorders. We also have up to 25 patients in outlying wards whose care is coordinated by our liaison Clinical Nurse Consultant. The Oncology Treatment Centre (OTC) focuses on outpatient and day treatment care.
Paediatric oncology not only challenges staff, but also rewards them with professional and personal fulfilment.
"Hi, my name is Robyn and I have worked on Camperdown ward for 13 years. I absolutely love working in Oncology. I started full time and then had a family of my own and went part time. I get great job satisfaction working with Oncology children and their families, knowing I make a difference to their lives, mostly by being here and emotionally supporting them; educating them on the medications /chemotherapy and side effects and on the different diseases and disease processes. I feel privileged to look after incredible and brave children and young people and I am continually learning not only about Oncology but also about bereavement support, ongoing treatments and people."
The nursing staff of the oncology unit are supported by a multidisciplinary team consisting of:
- Social work
- Play therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Hospital school
who all help provide the best possible care for the patient and their family.
Management and support
The strategic planning of Camperdown ward and the OTC is performed by a Nursing Manager. She is supported in the clinical and leadership roles by 3 Nursing Unit Managers (2 for CW and 1 for OTC) who perform the roles of Nurse Clinical Coordinators. Shifts on Camperdown always have a team leader and rostering is carried out to ensure a good skills mix of staff for all shifts. Support roles that are exist are those of Nurse Educator, Clinical Nurse Educator, Blood and Marrow Transplant coordinator (plans transplants with the family and multi-disciplinary team, and supports acute nursing care in the unit), CNC Oncology Liaison (to support ward and outlying staff in oncology care), Out of hours CNE (mainly at the weekends), CNC Community (works with our patients from discharge planning, outpatient treatment to community and in home care).
Professional support and development
All new staff attend a one day generic hospital orientation and a second day of generic nursing orientation. Then they attend the ward and receive further orientation and for two days work in a supernumerary capacity with the Educator. Then pick up patients as they become proficient and confident. We provide ongoing educator support and 'buddying' with an experienced RN for the first month.
Preceptorship / Mentorship: New staff are allocated a mentor/preceptor to support them through new routines. The Oncology educational and mentorship program includes extra full study days and regular in-service.
Paediatric Oncology continually provides a variety of exciting opportunities. We currently offer relief positions for experienced staff to gain further role experience as Nurse Clinical Co-ordinators, Clinical Nurse Educator Out of hours, Community Clinical Nurse Consultants. These relief riles can be for up to 6 months. We also have rotation opportunities for three months for nurses in Camperdown ward to work in the OTC, and with our Oncology Liason CNC. There are many educational courses that enable you to expand your knowledge and skills. Conference attendance is encouraged and financially supported, both in Australia and overseas. Financial support for further education is available through the oncology nurses fund. A weekly Radiology/Oncology Planning (educational) meeting and a weekly multidisciplinary meeting is conducted as well as regular in-service.
"My name is Angela and I have been at Camperdown since Jan 5th 2004. I am here on the exchange programme linked with the Oncology unit at Great Ormond Street hospital in London. I am a Senior Staff nurse on Giraffe ward there. Giraffe treats all aspects of Paediatric oncology but predominantly we treat high risk infants with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia and Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. We also nurse children receiving peripheral blood stem cell transplants.
I have come to Camperdown to compare how these specific children are treated. I am also interested in a few general nursing issues such as, wound management in the neutropenic child, nutritional support, management of nausea and vomiting and the chemotherapy regimes used. I have an additional interest in Palliative care. I am hoping to attend the Palliative care symposium and I also intend to work at Bear Cottage for a short time whilst I am here in Sydney.
The exchange scheme was attractive to me as it has enabled me to gain some further experience in oncology nursing with the assurance of my position on Giraffe on my return to the UK. It offers great opportunity to work in another oncology unit and to work in another country at the same time. I also think it promotes stronger networks between the 2 hospitals in order to share ideas and practices in the future.
The staff on Camperdown ward have been very friendly and welcoming. I feel that I have been orientated to the ward and the hospital very well. Some of the practice is simular to what we do at GOS but some is very different so just adjusting to different ways has been a learning curve in itself. So far I have had mixed reactions when I have discussed how some things can be approached differently. I am looking forward to the next few months on Camperdown and hope that I will find practices here that I can take back to ultimately improve patient outcomes."
The staff of the oncology service are supportive and experienced. Lots of assistance is provided to help new staff adjust to this specialist nursing environment.
Working in Oncology offers opportunities to work over long periods with families. It is an exciting place to learn and be part of cutting edge research and treatment. You can also work in a variety of service settings for the same service (inpatient, outpatient, day treatment, community).
- Friday drinks and mufti day last Friday of the month, drinks after work, or other outing.
- Social club, twice yearly activities to get together outside of work.
- Huge team Xmas party
The Oncology team members work together to provide the best possible care for the patients and their families, the support for one another is fantastic.
"Hi, my name is Jen and I'm a second year registered nurse in Camperdown Ward. I've worked here for nearly eight months, since I got placed here for the last rotation of my new graduate programme. My first impression of CW was that it was sooo busy! But everyone was really friendly, helpful, and supportive. It's an excellent ward to work on. You have to have good time management skills, or at least be willing to learn some! Working on the ward is a challenging, but definitely worthwhile experience. And regardless if you know nothing, a little or a lot about oncology; there is constant educational and peer support to ensure that you never feel too far out of your depth.
The reaction I get from people when I tell them I work in a children's oncology ward is, "that must be so sad!" The reality is that my job is so rewarding - the smiles you get from the kids the second they feel ok, makes you forget the sadness of the whole situation. The people working in our ward mostly try to focus on the positive, as do the kids and their parents, and as a result, the ward is a very positive and happy environment to work in.
If you enjoy a challenge, keeping on your toes, and working in a positive and rewarding environment, Camperdown Ward is definitely the ward for you!"