Working in nurse-led research: Diane Davey

Diane Davey has been a nurse at Peter Mac since completing her grad year with us in 2014. She is currently splitting her time between Radiotherapy and Nurse-Led Research where she is investigating different methods to reduce skin reactions following radiotherapy treatment.

What is your role at Peter Mac?

I work in radiotherapy and I'm on a secondment from day therapy working in Nurse-led Research in conjunction with the University of Melbourne. Over my time at Peter Mac I've also worked on the wards and in cancer imaging.

Tell us about your path to becoming a nurse.

I started working at Peter Mac in 2014 as a grad. For me it was a big career change coming from senior management in the corporate sector. I had a big event that changed my life and made me think about what I wanted to do. If I go back to when I was in high school, I always thought I was going to go into something health related but at the time all my friends were going to business studies and that seemed like it would be a bit more fun. It was a lot of fun - I had a fantastic career - but I thought ‘you only get one life and what difference do you want to make?’ With nursing, there’s just so much you can do.

What made you decide to work at Peter Mac?

I wanted to work in oncology and quite frankly, where else would you go but Peter Mac. I had a really great opportunity to do a few placements at Peter Mac while I was at university and I just felt that it was really special place. Everyone you deal with is so dedicated and just so professional. It's really exciting working with other experts who are really passionate about what they're doing. You achieve so much more and I thought, that's where I want to be.

Also, there's is so much research happening and nurses have such a great opportunity to contribute because we are right there with the patient. Being able to do research to inform our practice is a really good thing.

Tell us about your research.

The research project is called the Intact Study. With radiotherapy, a lot of our patients - especially head and neck patients - get a really high dose of radiotherapy that's very close to the skin and a lot of them get a very severe breakdown of the skin. We are looking at different products to reduce the skin reaction and to increase the patient’s range of motion and to heal faster. There’s a product we noticed anecdotally that seemed to work quite well and now we are putting some rigour around it. There was a grant awarded last year and a bigger one this year to keep the research going and it will be really exciting to have some proper data behind it.

Talk us through an average day at Peter Mac.

Working in clinic is a very dynamic environment. You don't know who you're going to see next and what their issues may be. In radiotherapy, in the clinical area for instance, patients come in and sometimes it's for their first treatment. We do an initial nursing assessment with them and it takes about 30-40 mins to go through all their history and to know where they're at, what their background is and so-forth. Then we talk to them about their treatment and assess how ready they are to proceed and you're identifying all the things they need to help them get through it. Sometimes there's social things and sometimes it’s more practical things. I love doing that session because you really get that one-on-one time with the patient.

Then we do follow up appointments while they're having their treatment. They may be having problems with their skin, so you might talk them through how to self-care or if they skin is broken then we need to apply a dressing and then continue to manage and monitor it. Then we do the final nursing assessment when they have finished their treatment which is always really fantastic as most of them are usually really happy about having gone through.

What would you say to a nurse considering a career at Peter Mac?

Come on over, it's a great place to work. Be ready to work in an environment that's dynamic where your dreams can come true. You can make a difference in patients’ lives in many, many different ways here. If there's something you're passionate about, there's lots of passionate people here that can help you make it happen.