Certificate in Contemporary Palliative Care, 2016
When it comes to doing the very best for her patients, Dundalk community nurse Nicola Rogers was happy to head back into the classroom and put her academic skills to the test once more. Nicola qualified in general nursing in 1989 and midwifery in 1993, and was a staff nurse in St Vincent’s Hospital Dublin and Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. Although very experienced in the acute hospital setting, as a young nursing student, she had completed a placement in the community setting, liked it and always wanted to go back to it. When the opportunity arose several years later, Nicola moved across to become a Community Registered General Nurse (RGN) in 2009, working first in Drogheda before moving to Dundalk in 2014.
“I really enjoy the one-to-one holistic aspects of community nursing and I have a good number of patients in their 90s and several in their 100s. My oldest patient at present is 102! Because of this, palliative care has become an area of great interest to me. “
Palliative care focuses on the prevention and relief of suffering by means of assessing and treating pain and other physical, psychosocial or spiritual problems.
“Many people mistakenly think you can only receive palliative care when other treatments are no longer possible but in fact, it can be provided to any patients of any age and at any stage following the diagnosis of a life-limiting illness. It can also be extended to family support.”
Nicola heard about DKIT’s Certificate in Contemporary Palliative Care at the Nursing and Midwifery Research Conference in 2016 and successfully applied for a place in the three-month course, which ran from Sept to December 2016. Although she was out of practice with the necessary academic writing and research needed to do the course, she received a great deal of support and guidance from her tutors as well as her two daughters, who are both studying at third level. Nicola also enjoyed support and camaraderie with her fellow students, who came from a broad range of nursing backgrounds.
“My favourite parts of the course were group work and when they brought in outside speakers. They included nurse specialists in palliative care, who were very good but we also met a local undertaker in Drogheda. He told us about their role and it’s amazing what we learned from him.”
Nicola and her colleagues would regularly link in with the palliative care team at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital and she is now looking at developing a steering group to help improve interdisciplinary communication and streamline the processes between public health nursing and the palliative care team.
Nicola is seeing more patients nearing the end of their lives who want to spend their final days at home and their families are also keen, once the supports are there. Community nurses and palliative care specialists together play a vital role in helping patients achieve that wish.
“I’m so pleased to have completed the course, it’s been of huge benefit to me and indirectly to my patients. And, now that I have a taste of college life, I’m thinking of going on further with my studies. Watch this space!”