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  • Jolene

What It Means to Be a Surgical Oncology Nurse

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

Dr Grace Tan, Dr Melissa Teo, Seettha

I was fortunate to start my nursing career after being granted a scholarship. Back then, nursing was just a job to me. It was something I had to do for a living. I understood that I had to work for a health organization, perform my duties and receive my paycheck at the end of the month for my services. When I graduated and started working, I came to realise that nursing is more than that. It is a privilege to work with people from all walks of life. As a nurse, the things I do will impact my patients in ways that they remember for a lifetime. I became a friend, an advocate and a hand to hold - and that made nursing an incredible job.

In 2012, I was given an amazing opportunity to be part of a team dedicated to Advanced Surgical Oncology. This team is nationally and internationally known to be the best of the best in this field. I was nervous, fearful and excited at the prospect of joining this elite team, unsure if I could ever meet their standards. Over the years, under the guidance and mentorship of Prof Melissa and team, I was able to gain insight and knowledge about Surgical Oncology. With Prof Melissa’s assistance, I was able to present papers in international conferences over the years. I grew as an individual and as a nursing professional. This opportunity allowed me to forge friendships with surgical oncology nurses overseas with a collective experience of over three decades. Being a surgical oncology nurse, I was granted multiple opportunities. I had training under the Nutrition department, Palliative Medicine team, had hands-on training in operating theatres and completed my diploma in wounds, ostomy, and continence. I was actively participating in Tumour Boards and Journal Clubs which also helped to heighten my knowledge in Surgical Oncology. Understanding the disease pathway and treatment plans helped me render better personalized care to my patients.

There are many different types of specialization in nursing. There is high-acuity care nursing, peri-operative nursing, emergency care nursing and more. Being trained in a particular care setting, nurses are given no access to care for the patient from their very first consult with the doctor till post-surgery. Over the years, I have come to realise that I have been given this unique opportunity to truly provide a holistic care for my patients from the start of their journey till the end of their cancer surveillance. This exclusivity, to me, is what being a Surgical Oncology Nurse is.

The above is written by Seettha, Melissa Teo Surgery's nurse.

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