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International Nurses Day - Prof Ray Chan

Wednesday 12 May 2021

PA Hospital's (PAH) Professor Ray Chan is the perfect example of this year's International Nurses Day themes, A Voice to Lead, and A Vision for Future Healthcare.

Prof Chan, who this year has been nominated in the HESTA Nurse of the Year awards, has not only dedicated more than 20 years of work and study towards the nursing profession, but is a highly respected colleague and mentor to dozens of other clinicians at the PA Hospital campus. He has also been internationally recognized through appointments to numerous national and international health organisations.

A dedicated healthcare professional, improving outcomes for patients is always at the forefront of his mind, as evidenced by his research into a novel silicone-based gel dressing for cancer patients, which now means thousands of cancer patients will not experience a painful side effect associated with radiation therapy.

Prof Raymond Chan

Prof Chan has been nationally recognised for developing a nurse-enabled model of post-treatment care of cancer patients involving cancer specialists and primary care providers. This model has received support from the National Health and Medical Research Council to be implemented in seven sites across the country, ultimately meaning thousands of breast cancer patients will receive optimal integrated care with input from specialists, GP's and practice nurses.

This year's International Nurses Day primary theme of 'A Voice to Lead', resonates with Prof Chan as he is firm believer that healthcare should have a teamwork approach.

"Single discipline healthcare is yesterday's medicine, the idea that a single discipline can resolve every health problem in the world is no longer the way to go, we have to work as team," he said.

"I think nurses being the largest workforce, we're the experts in patient experiences, we are at the coalface, we are seeing the patients and supporting them along their journey."

"It is important we don't just lead, but we actually provide the perspectives into the leadership of healthcare and recognise that we don't have to claim everyone is a titled leader of some sort, but every nurse can contribute that leadership perspective in a helpful way."

Honoured to be nominated for HESTA Nurse of the Year by the former Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer of Australia Professor Debra Thoms, Prof Chan said the recognition, alongside the studies he leads were great examples of the influence on healthcare nurses can and already have.

"What I'm really proud of about my work is that we really changed care and changed the system," he said.

"A lot of my work such as the silicone gel dressing is really impacting outcomes at the patient level, it's about the nurse and the doctor telling people what dressing to use for the wound.

"At another level, a big part of my work is in changing post-cancer treatment care for cancer patients. I would like to shift a lot of that care out to the community and to the GPs who take a holistic approach. I'm doing a lot of system level work, whereby I'm trying to implement this care at seven cancer centres for breast cancer, and then doing similar work for other cancers.

"I'm proud of this work because it touches the patients at an individual level, which comes back to my work as nurses.

"Individual patient care is very important, but I wanted to have an influence to a wider group of people at the same time, and both the gel dressing and post cancer care work are examples where traditionally people would think only our medical colleagues could have such a big impact, but it's important that people know nurses can and are making huge positive impacts to the health system."

Prof Chan said he is just one of many nursing leaders at the PAH, which he puts down to a culture of respect and collaboration across the spectrum of healthcare professionals and researchers on the hospital campus.

"Within the PA itself, we have got good collaboration with Queensland University of Technology and the University of Queensland, we have the PA Research Foundation and a very supportive executive leadership, so the PA is very agile, and our medical and allied health colleagues are so respectful of nursing. They respect nurses not just because they have to but because they see us as as highly educated workforce," Prof Chan said.

"Within the Division of Cancer services, the majority of us as nurses have a postgraduate qualification, functioning across many of the advanced practice areas in cancer care.

"Our medical colleagues respectfully work with us when we want to lead a change. Nurses are involved in decision making at every level, which is a very unique feature of the PA."

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