It’s all about the journey for St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital anaesthetic nurse

Shane Brown

St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital Clinical Nurse in Anaesthetics Shane Brown jokes that what he does can be compared to a plane flight – pre-flight checks, take off, cruising in flight and landing – but the reality is far more complex.

Shane stays with a patient throughout their hospital theatre journey, starting with the ‘meet and greet’ in the patient lounge and says it’s part of the job to meet people when they can be at their most vulnerable.

“I’m there when they fall asleep and there when they awaken in OT and all times in between - then we send them into the safe care of the fantastic Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU),” Shane said.

“I just chat with them and get a sense of how they’re feeling. Some people have lots of questions, while some just need me to crack a few jokes to allay their fears.

“During our chat I find out a bit more about them and their history which is key to me attempting to create a positive theatre experience.

“I stay with them as they prepare for surgery, and I’m one of the first people they see after they wake up post surgery,” he said.

Despite growing up in a family of builders, Shane was encouraged to follow his own path and considered becoming a physical education teacher or paramedic before settling on nursing.

“I was always fascinated by anatomy and once I started nursing, I knew I was right where I wanted to be,” Shane said.

“I really love my job at St Andrew’s. It’s a pleasure to do what I do and be surrounded by highly skilled professionals.

“We sometimes forget the privilege of meeting patients who entrust their lives to us in theatre – they are 100% vulnerable,” he said.

Shane said that everyone who comes in for surgery reacts to the experience differently.

“You never quite know what to expect when you meet the patient but it certainly means no two shifts are the same,” Shane said.

“With more than 150 anaesthetists, that means there’s 150 different ways of doing the same procedure!” he laughingly said.

Some of Shane’s most memorable moments include the ‘firsts’ performed at the hospital and the community we serve.

“I have been part of the first TAVI’s, various cardiac and DBS (Deep Brain Stimulation) cases which are incredible and I’m learning something new pretty much every single day,” Shane said.

“As a War Memorial Hospital, St Andrew’s cares for a significant amount of returned service men and women and it’s always an honour to thank them for their service,” he said.

Working in a hospital during a worldwide pandemic has certainly played on Shane’s mind.

“We are highly aware of COVID-19 in theatre and particularly in anaesthetics the aerosolising capability of the virus,” Shane said.

“It certainly causes you to look at your own mortality but we still do our job, take precautions and follow procedures to the letter.

“No matter which hat someone wears at St Andrew’s we have an awesome team and I thoroughly enjoy it,” he said.