Following her heart to help people: Magda Deveson

When Magda Deveson first came to Peter Mac as a graduate nurse five years ago she couldn’t believe how happy everyone was. ‘It’s a fun work environment. A lot of people think an oncology setting is rather depressing and morbid, but there’s always a lot of smiling, a lot of laughter.’

Magda had been working in advertising but got sick of the politics and the sense of competition. To fill in time, Magda got an administrative job in a medical centre and fell in love with healthcare. ‘I decided to follow my heart and help people, as cheesy as that sounds, but it’s true.’

It was during her degree that she decided she wanted to become a theatre nurse in a cancer setting. ‘I did oncology as one of my core subjects and developed a warmth for it.’

She did her graduate year at Peter Mac, spending six months on the ward and six months in theatre. She was impressed with the work environment. ‘There’s a lot of support, especially when you’re a grad. You really need that.’

Working at Peter Mac

Five years on, Magda is now an Associate Nurse Unit Manager in the operating theatre. It’s a floor coordination role where she looks after the nurses and staffing levels and keeps surgery flowing smoothly.

Magda also works as an ‘instrument’ or ‘circulating’ nurse, otherwise known as a ‘scrub scout’ nurse. In this role she assists surgeons with whatever they need, whether it’s retracting, handing them instruments or dealing with the tumour when it’s out.

She loves the fast pace of the work environment and the opportunity to work in a high-acuity field. ‘Working so closely with the surgeons and the anaesthetists …  you just learn so much from them.’

Her roster varies but is made up of 10-hour shifts, four days a week, and always Monday to Friday, which is rare in nursing. She also works on-call one weekend in five.

A rewarding role

Even though her work is more ‘behind the scenes’, Magda finds it incredibly empowering to know she has played a part in extending someone’s life or curing them.

Being an advocate for her patients is also important. ‘They’re anaesthetised, so they don’t know who I am, but I’m there to look out for their best interests while they’re unconscious.’

One of the most rewarding parts of her job is seeing patients around the hospital weeks after their surgery or hearing their names mentioned years down the track. ‘You meet them when they’re at their most vulnerable and they’re really nervous and scared. And you’ve been able to travel with them throughout their process in theatre and to give them that calmness that they need.’

A supportive work environment

Magda says that a commitment to teamwork and a sense of kindness permeates Peter Mac. ‘Everyone is so much more together and compassionate than what I experienced as an undergrad. Everyone supports each other, everyone debriefs together, and we all just look out for one other.’

Magda says that Peter Mac’s flat level of management makes it easy to ask for help or advice. ‘There’s no hierarchy that makes it difficult to approach anyone’.

Furthering her education

Next year Magda will go back to study to complete a perioperative postgraduate degree. Peter Mac will support her with a clinical educator in theatre to help guide her through it.

She says the hospital offers her time off for study as well. ‘You get additional study days when you study at university to support you with the time you need for your assessments.’

In her current role she says she is well supported by two full-time nurse educators: one dedicated to anaesthetics and recovery and another dedicated to surgical. ‘They’re there all the time. They follow you as you step up through the different surgeries, and there’s competencies that we have to complete.’

Career progression is a core part of the Peter Mac philosophy. ‘There isn’t a moment where you stand still in theatre. You’re always encouraged – within your means – to keep progressing.’

And Madga’s experience is testament to this. ‘I’ve become an ANUM within three years of being here. And that’s all through the encouragement of my superiors.’