St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital’s Breast Care Service offers prompt, professional and personalised breast care, through tailored imaging, early detection, diagnosis and treatment.
As Queensland’s only Nurse Practitioner in Breast Oncology, Natasha Keir is based at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital and is only one of three Nurse Practitioners in her field in Australia. We caught up with Natasha to learn about how the supportive culture at St Andrew’s enabled her to provide this innovative model of care for our patients and their families.
‘I was motivated to become Queensland’s first nurse practitioner in breast oncology because I wanted to provide quality, accessible, expert nursing care to the patients of St Andrews War Memorial Hospital,” explains Natasha, a bright and dynamic UnitingCare nurse with extensive experience and passion to provide the best clinical care to our patients and their families.
As one member of St Andrew’s larger team of dedicated doctors, nurses, allied health and support services, Natasha helped establish the service and is proud to support people on their cancer journey physically, mentally, emotionally and socially. ‘What sets us apart from other services is our team. We work collaboratively, communicate constantly to ensure that each patient (and their family) receives comprehensive care, expert advice and up to date resources to ensure the best possible clinical outcomes,’ she said. ‘I am fortunate to be part of the St Andrew’s family that values my role and the difference it makes to the outcomes of our patients.’
With support from the hospital executive, medical staff, allied health and administration, Natasha could pursue her goals to develop the position and pave the way for other nurses. ‘I have received so much support and am grateful for the guidance from my colleagues to establish this breast care service,’ she said. Having pursued post-graduate studies in nursing, Natasha’s studies culminated in a Master of Nurse Practitioner in early 2020.
‘I decided back in 2017 that I wanted to become a Nurse Practitioner to further that holistic, patient-centered care that I strive to provide each day. When the opportunity arose to receive clinical supervision at a Nurse Practitioner level from St Andrew’s breast surgeons, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands. I knew that the entire hospital community strive to make a difference each day for our patients, and that we have a wonderful culture of support.
Fast forward to 2020 and Natasha graduated with Distinction from her Masters from Queensland University of Technology (QUT). ‘Basically, a Nurse Practitioner is a registered nurse who has undertaken additional university study at a Masters Degree level. They are the most senior and independent nurses in our health care system. I received my endorsement from AHPRA just as we went into lockdown due to COVID-19.’
Working with innovative new technology like 3D scanning imaging, and screening for sub-clinical variances that indicate early-stage lymphedema, St Andrew’s is at the forefront of evidence-based best practice. ‘We focus on the long-term wellbeing and health outcomes for our patients,’ explained Natasha, ‘not just immediate surgery and treatment.’
‘Our team is also dedicated to breast cancer awareness through speaking engagements, written articles and provision of education to staff and the wider health and medical community,’ adds Natasha. ‘Breast cancer care is very dynamic and ever changing and we are here to walk alongside our patients every step of the way.’