In her role, Susanna provides clinical care to patients receiving treatment for cancer, and/or serious illness. She also leads the Ivy Suite team and ensures its smooth operation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ivy Suite is mostly business as usual, with few changes to staffing levels or workload. Given this, Susanna is currently up-skilling to enable her to support our ICU caregivers, if the need arises.
“Because of the brand of nursing we do, our aim is to keep COVID-19 out of our unit. So although we don't plan to care directly for COVID-19 patients, we have had to change a lot of practices to keep the unit COVID free," she said.
“It was stressful at the beginning as we prepared ourselves, planning how to keep everyone safe from the spread, and managing the understandable anxieties for such a vulnerable group of the community."
“Thankfully, we haven't seen the numbers of infection here in WA that have been seen by countries such as the UK and USA, but we still have a way to go. I am glad I can help out on the front line if they need me, and in the meantime, learning these new skills is fascinating."
From an early age, Susanna wanted to be a nurse, like her grandmother. Initially, she intended to be an emergency nurse, but decided on oncology nursing after experiencing what life on an oncology ward was really like.
“I expected it to be very morbid, sombre and emotionally draining. I thought I'd be crying all the time, or at least dealing with others who were. Actually in my experience it's quite a light and positive atmosphere," says Susanna.
“Our patients have such a great outlook on life, and what's important. Generally, they don't waste time fretting over the small stuff, and are frequently up for a laugh and a chat."
“Many patients have been with me for a long time, so we really get to know each other and get to share each other's lives. It's a privilege being able to help them through such a tough journey."
Susanna joined St John of God Subiaco Hospital in 2009, and was drawn to us by the warm and welcoming atmosphere, which keeps her with us to this day. She began as an oncology nurse on the floor, taking up her managerial role in 2017. This gives her a whole different insight into her work.
“Managing this team, I get to see how dedicated our nurses really are. Taking on extra shifts, spending extra time with patients just because they need a shoulder, and picking up extra tasks to free others up is just second nature to them, because they care about what they do. To them, nursing is a vocation, not just a job," she says.
If she were not a nurse, Susanna would like to try her hand at hairdressing or make-up artistry.
When not at work, and when she is not studying, Susanna is usually with her two daughters, aged one and four. During isolation, the family have become budding chefs and keen backyard campers.
2020 is the International Year of The Nurse and The Midwife, and Susanna appreciates the recognition.
“Particularly now, while the world is in the grips of the pandemic, people see how hard and unpredictable nursing is and see the dedication and risk involved. It is fantastic that finally, this is in the spotlight," Susanna says.
“I hope when the pandemic is over and everything goes back to normal, this isn't forgotten."
Find out more about St John of God Subiaco Hospital complete cancer care.