Henry Clark originally studied philosophy, working and living in the UK before moving to Australia with his wife and working in disability support. Henry then successfully completed his Masters in Nursing at the University of Melbourne, and joined Peter Mac over a year ago.
What was your path into nursing?
I came to nursing pretty late. I originally studied philosophy and then I was an undertaker for a while in the UK. Then I was in a band for about 10 years before I moved to Australia because my wife is Australian. I started doing disability support work and I was working alongside a lot of nurses and that's what got the cogs whirring. So, I went and studied at Melbourne University and did a two-year master of nursing and here I am.
What made you apply for the Peter Mac grad program?
I did a placement at Peter Mac in my first year of university and it was the standout place for me. The support was amazing and the education was incredible compared to a lot of other placements I did. The undergraduate educator was so proactive and really put so much effort into supporting us and teaching us stuff that was really interesting. And overall it was the expertise of the nurses and the attitude they have.
You hear the term patient-centred care bandied around quite a lot but it's the real deal here. I felt that I could really form relationships with patients at Peter Mac and that wasn't something I felt I could achieve at some of the bigger hospitals around here.
What area are you working in at Peter Mac?
I'm in the day therapy area. I was in the medical day unit to start off with, which is pretty general with patients coming in for all sorts of reasons, so it was a really good grounding in nursing. I’ve just starting working in the transfusion lounge - which is the delivery of blood products essentially - and then I'll be transitioning into the chemo day unit in the second half of this year.
Just in this area there are all sorts of other specialist areas. I'm not exactly sure where I'll be in the next five years but I think I'll be at Peter Mac, I definitely get that feeling. I like that mobility around the centre is really encouraged too. I spoke to one guy who was part of the nursing education team when I did my interviews and he'd been here for nine years and I think he's worked in almost every single area. He’s just moved into theatre which is the only area he hadn't previously worked in. Peter Mac really encourages you to get that whole picture of the cancer treatment process.
What’s an average day like in day therapy?
First, I prepare my area - I’ve got a pod with three seats. I look at my scheduler and see what's coming up but it doesn't always stay the same. You try and do a bit of preparation and then the patients start arriving. They come in and you give them their treatments. Sometimes they come in and they're unwell and you have to get them assessed and maybe sent to the ward. You have to think on your feet quite a lot with a lot of problem solving and figuring out how you can utilise the wider healthcare team to get problems addressed. Then once they finish their treatment they will hopefully head home happy.
What are you most proud of in your first few months in the job?
Firstly, it’s the skills side of things. You feel quite pleased when you manage to tick off competencies and become more autonomous. In this area (day therapy) you have to do cannulation, blood product administration and central line management – which I have managed to get down pat quite quickly meaning I don't have to rely on other people, so that feels really good.
But what makes me really proud is those little moments where you have looked after a patient well for the whole process and you send them off and you have built a good rapport and you feel they're happy. That's what it's all about.
What would you say to someone considering a grad position at Peter Mac?
If the way Peter Mac works resonates with you and gets you excited then go for it. The impression I get is that they want to know you as a person and with the interview it's not all about your clinical experience or knowledge of cancer; it's what your attitude is and whether your approach resonates with the approach here. It’s a really friendly recruitment process and it’s a small number of grads so it seems like a daunting thing but I really think you should put it at the top, if you want it.