Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Irish Lass Finds Her Heart Beats Hardest for the Sick

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Irish Lass Finds Her Heart Beats Hardest for the Sick

Article excerpt

BECOMING a nurse was never part of Fran Brewster's grand plan when she was growing up in Ireland.

Instead, it became the fall-back career when London's big city lights beckoned after high school.

"Everyone was doing teaching but I wanted to see the world and the United Kingdom looked pretty enticing," the Nambour Hospital nurse said.

"And nursing was a way to do that. So yes, you could say it was an act of rebellion in a way."

But after six weeks Fran phoned her dad, told him she didn't like it and begged to go home.

"He told me I'd made a decision and I had to see it through. It ended up being the best thing he could have said because I stuck at it and nursing has been very good to me."

Fran, who turns 40 this year, is the District Palliative Care Service nurse unit manager.

This week is Palliative Care Week, giving Fran an opportunity to think back on how she ended up in this health care area.

Now married to an English electrician, a mother to two children aged 10 and 14 and living on the Sunshine Coast for the lifestyle, you would think working in such an emotional environment would not be made by choice.

But it is.

Fran said the most rewarding aspect of palliative care nursing was being involved in one of most important times of a person's life.

"It is humbling and without being cliched, it's a privilege," she said.

"We are very clear though, that we don't take over. Rather we dip in and out as clients and families need us.

"Communication at the end of life is sometimes quite complex - families and loved ones don't always know how to react, what to say.

"Even as health professionals it can be uncomfortable as we think we have to have all the answers.

"But sometimes the patient just wants to offload. You don't always have to have the answers and it's best to tell the patient that.

"And you don't have to come out with the platitudes of 'I understand', because how can you?"

Fran said it would be wrong to say staff remained unaffected by their work.

"But you don't wear your heart on your sleeve because it's the patient's journey, not ours. …

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