In honor of the Year of the Nurse and Midwife 2020, EBSCO Information Services paid tribute to nurses and midwives worldwide by showcasing their unwavering service to others, deep seated sense of compassion and great strength.
As part of these celebrations, we launched EBSCO Nurse of the Year Awards 2020. We asked our customers to nominate nurses from their organization for consideration to be selected as EBSCO’s Nurse of the Year 2020. The EBSCO Nurse of the Year Award winner would exemplify the World Health Organization’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife key directives, including a drive to strengthen nursing and midwifery, to achieve health care for all and encourage fellow nurses and midwives to influence improvements in health care.
Kerri Philips-Smith was selected as one of two EBSCO Nurse of the Year 2020 winners. Kerri Phillips-Smith established the Breast Care Nurse role at Ramsay Health 10 years ago and during this time, has been instrumental in developing the role into an exceptional service. The service now sees approximately 350 patients each year. To promote Breast Care Service to the highest level, Kerri implemented an innovative education strategy to upskill nursing staff in the care and management of their patients, ensuring a continuous and personalized service that reaches all patients admitted at the commencement of their potential or actual diagnosis and subsequent breast cancer journey.
Q. Please share with our readers a little bit about yourself.
A. I am a nurse, a mother of two grown girls and one very spoiled puppy. I have been married to the same wonderful man for the last 23 years. I love a project and always have one on the go. I thrive on being busy which keeps life interesting. When I get the chance to relax, I escape with my family to Lake Somerset for some water sports. It is a chance to put technology away and enjoy my family.
Q. What led you to choose a career in nursing?
A. I come from a long line of nurses so it was sort of in my DNA. One of my earliest memories was of my grandmother who was a midwife. I can still remember her crisp white uniform starched in all its glory. It would swish briskly as she walked me home from school, her legs moved so fast I could barely keep up. I was amazed at how people would stop to acknowledge her. We would visit the local bakery every afternoon before heading home for tea and cake. She would keep me entertained for hours with birth stories. I guess I fell in love with the idea of nursing with the sisterhood she spoke about and the idea of supporting a person when they were most vulnerable.
Q. Can you tell us about your current role as Breast Care Nurse for Ramsay Health, and what lead you to specialize in this area?
A. Prior to becoming a Breast Care nurse, I had spent 18 years in the cancer care setting either administering chemotherapy or as an educator. During this time, I was really moved by how distressed breast cancer patients seemed when they started treatment. I later came to realize that there had been so many pivotal decisions leading up to chemotherapy that made the breast cancer journey complex. Should I have a mastectomy or breast conservations surgery? What about a reconstruction immediate or delayed? Should I have genetic testing? How does my diagnosis affect my own children? What about endocrine therapy or radiation and how do I reduce the possibility of it coming back?
As a Breast Care nurse, I am fortunate to be in a position to support patients from the beginning of their journey, from pre-operative counselling through the peri- op experience, following them on to the ward to discharge. Much of my time involves providing emotional support and collaborating with the surgeons, oncologists and allied health care team to achieve the best outcomes possible for every individual. I am an advocate of practical support and am so glad I work for an organization with values that align with my own. I believe that the breast care program at Greenslopes Private Hospital provides a valuable resource for women and men with breast cancer in our greater community. It meets a genuine need to educate empower and support patients to take control of their treatment pathways.
Q. What do you find to be the most rewarding aspect of your current role?
A. The opportunity to spend time emotionally connecting and supporting patients through their journey rates high, but I have to admit that I am quite addicted to a phenomena that I call the “Aha moment.” This is the expression of realization a patient has on their face when we decode something medical for them — put it in simple terms, something they can relate to. Patients can use this information to understand their diagnosis and make informed decisions. There is a transfer of control with a transfer of knowledge. This act of nursing care is the most rewarding for me.
Q. What is your professional passion as it relates to healthcare?
A. Creating sustainable tools that we leave behind for others. I have always felt that if a service has value, you do not want to be the only one who can deliver that service. Sharing knowledge with others is key and leaving them a roadmap so that care can continue and improve is my passion.
Q. What does the Year of the Nurse and Midwife mean to you?
A. The year of the nurse has been an opportunity to highlight the great work nurses do every day. I really love listening to and reading the stories of my nursing colleagues. While I reflect on my own decision to care for others, I am also interested in the challenges that nurses face in countries with health systems vastly different from Australia.