Meet the nurses: Cockatoo Ward
On level four of the RCH you’ll find Cockatoo ward, the specialty surgical and neurology care ward. Nurses Nicole and Bronte told us what it’s like to care for patients in the "mountain tops" of the RCH.
Can you tell me about the patients you care for on Cockatoo?
Nicole: On Cockatoo we have quite a few specialties that we look after. Our major specialties are neurosurgery, neurology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and metabolics. This includes caring for kids with major traumatic brain injuries, surgeries to remove brain tumours, seizure management and diagnosis, all kinds of gastroenterological conditions such as Crohn’s disease and short-gut babies, kids pre and post liver transplant and newly diagnosed Type 1 diabetics.
What makes Cockatoo unique from other wards?
Nicole: We are both a medical and surgical ward, making us very versatile nurses. One of the many things that makes Cockatoo unique is that we provide the statewide service for paediatric liver transplants and care for international and interstate kids pre and post liver transplant.
Bronte: Cockatoo ward is also equipped to preform Video EEG monitoring (VEM). This video monitoring is performed to help diagnose seizures by recording the child’s behaviour and brain electrical activity.
What attracted you to working at the RCH?
Nicole: Growing up I personally experienced the amazing care from staff at the RCH. I always knew that I wanted to return in some way to work in such a fantastic hospital, I just didn’t know in what role. I was attracted to Cockatoo to work with the endocrine and diabetes patients as I, myself have Type 1 diabetes. However I have learnt that I love every other specialty that Cockatoo has had to offer me.
Bronte: In my final year of university, I completed a nursing placement at Bendigo Health on their paediatric ward and really enjoyed working with children. It was then that I decided to apply to do my grad year at the RCH. I didn’t preference a ward when I applied as I was happy to work anywhere in the hospital, looking back now though I’m so grateful that I was employed by Cockatoo.
Why did you get into nursing?
Nicole: During university, before studying nursing, I volunteered on a camp for children with Type 1 diabetes as a leader. I realised I wanted to use my own personal experience and knowledge to help kids like myself.
What’s the most rewarding thing about your role?
Nicole: Being able to care for patient and their families immediately post surgery or through a difficult diagnosis and watching the child improve and recover each day and then to see them begin to smile, play and be cheeky again is amazing to see and be a part of.
Bronte: For me the most rewarding part of my job is seeing our long term patients and families go home, especially if they were on the Butterfly ward as infants before coming to us and have never been home . Watching the growth and development that a child with liver disease makes following a liver transplant is pretty special as is seeing a child rehabilitate after a traumatic brain injury.
Is there a particular patient you’ve cared for who stands out for you?
Nicole: There are too many! I love our long-term gastro bubs and their families who can be with us on Cockatoo, sometimes upwards of a year. There are many memories and laughs shared with these patients and families that you will always remember and cherish.
Bronte: Several patients come to mind, I am inspired daily by the strength and resilience of the children that we care for. This job certainly keeps me grounded!
How do you relax after a long shift?
Bronte: I have a 30 minute drive home so I love turning up the music and having a little karaoke session, I find it’s a really good way to unwind and clear my head before I get home. Some old school 90’s is usually at the top of my playlist!
Nicole: A combination of rest and relaxation, rest and recuperation, rest and recreation and rest and retail therapy!
If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing instead?
Nicole: I always wanted to do something in the health science industry. It changed a lot from physiotherapy, to exercise science to medicine to dietetics. I’m very happy I landed on – and stuck with – nursing.
Bronte: I think I would still be working in the health industry, I always thought orthotics and prosthetics would be a pretty cool job!
To find out more about Cockatoo ward, download My RCH App from the App Store or Google Play.
Meet LunaMeet the Patients
Luna Phillips, four, has lymphoblastic leukaemia, but it doesn't stop her helping other kids.
Meet CharlotteMeet the Patients
When a tumour she dubbed "Mr Potato Head" invaded Charlotte's entire abdomen, the four-year-old endured chemotherapy and 28 hours of surgery.