Crestani Scholarship in Cancer Nursing
Merryn Barclay applied for the Crestani Scholarship as a student of the Graduate Certificate in Cancer Nursing at ACN. At the time of applying for the scholarship, Merryn was the Associate Nurse unit Manager of the Ambulatory Cancer Services at Western Health. With 5 years’ experience working in cancer services, Merryn believed that she had developed the fundamentals from ward experience to be competent. In order to develop further and become a real specialist in my field, Merryn recognised the need for specialist education, which was available at the Australian College of Nursing.
Merryn’s interest in cancer nursing developed from an experience as a graduate nurse and continued to grow after losing her mother to brain cancer, whilst completing her bachelor’s degree at the age of 22. During her mother’s journey Merryn was able to see how nurses could have such a positive impact on a person affected by cancer and have the ability to improve their cancer experience. During her mother’s battle she was able to experience first-hand the difficulty of managing the side effects of cancer at home and just how important education is for the patient and family to receive in order to minimise feelings of fear and anxiety after leaving the hospital.
Merryn provided this personal insight into her experience:
"I still remember when my mother would have episodes of confusion at home where she would become quite aggressive and upset. Due to her brain tumour, she was also very unsteady on her feet making it difficult to ensure her safety during these times. As her carer, I was unsure of what to do and who to contact. We had been provided a number for a nurse to call if we had any issues at home, however this number was unreachable after 5pm. After a constant hour of trying to settle my mother down we called an ambulance for assistance. After arriving at the hospital my mother was provided with additional medication to use to try and reduce these episodes in the future.
I just remember feeling so helpless and scared. I did not feel competent in my ability to manage my mother at home during this time and was not provided enough education in regard to managing any of these potential side effects. I remember thinking, how did I not ask all these questions after my mother was diagnosed before leaving the hospital.
The overall experiences we received from nursing staff varied greatly, with some aspects of her care and journey very positive, whilst I believe there were many areas that could have been improved."
Merryn’s vision as a cancer nurse is to provide consistent, high-quality care that is accessible to all. She wants to empower our nurses to provide high-quality care which involves patients in their treatment and management. Merryn’s goal is for her unit to be able to provide high quality education and care to all their patients, ensuring that they understand how to manage any situations that may arise during their journey.