Helping to train the next generation of specialist nurses is all part and parcel of working to save lives for Shannon Philp.
Shannon has been nominated for Nurse of the Year in the 2021 HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards, for her work with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sydney.
But a medical career was not always on the cards – in fact, Shannon never planned on being a nurse.
“I honestly didn’t think I’d be a nurse, but I’m really glad that I did, because nursing is where I’ve found what I’m passionate about and there are so many different areas you can go into,” she said.
“There’s the clinical aspect, as well as research and academics – lots of opportunities. We’re always going to need a specialised, educated workforce.”
Shannon has been a nurse for 25 years and was the first nurse practitioner in gynaecological oncology in Australia.
She has developed new and innovative models of patient-centred care, which have increased access to support and improved the care of women with gynaecological cancers.
“Just to have made a difference to people is really great,” Shannon said.
“What’s amazing to me are the changes that I have seen over the years, the improvement for patients and their outcomes.
“I love the interaction with the patients and their families and to really feel I’m making a difference, that’s why I do it.”
Shannon also lectures to post-graduate nurses and said she enjoyed the teaching aspect of her career.
“The teaching is really important to me, I really enjoy encouraging post-grad nurses,” she said.
“We need a highly-educated, specialist workforce. And I like being a role model to the students, both working and teaching, and being able to combine the two is great.”
Shannon has worked at comprehensive cancer care provider Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for the past seven years, and cannot say enough about the support from her colleagues and managers.
“Lifehouse has really helped me get where I am today, they’re so supportive of nurses and nurse practitioners, they’re a dedicated team and they value each member of the team as well,” she said.
“Catherine Lambert, director of clinical services at Lifehouse, has been a big support to me.”
Shannon added that working in gynaecological oncology could be challenging, but it was an area of nursing and medicine that she really loved.
“It’s very fast-paced, and there are rapid improvements in research and outcomes all the time,” she said.
“Just being able to see the differences in the past 20 years, the changes to the way we treat people and their outcomes.
“You do need to take care of yourself, but working in a team environment with supportive colleagues being able to bounce ideas off each other, and debrief is important. And to learn not to take everything home with you.
“It can be difficult, because you’re dealing with people’s lives and families, but we do see lots of positive things. And I deal with other areas as well, people with pre-cancer and other diseases that are not necessarily going to end badly.”
Shannon said she particularly wanted to encourage nurses to continue their education and training.
“I’m doing things in my work that most nurses might think they can’t do, or won’t do,” she said.
“And I’d like to say to them that they can, just believe that you can go out and increase the scope of your practice. If you’re confident and capable, you can do it.”
The winners of the HESTA Australian Nursing and Midwifery Awards will be announced on Thursday 6 May 2021.