Chris Williams (M. Advanced Nursing Practice 2017) was the 2016 winner of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Graduate Nurses Association Award and works as a paediatric oncology nurse consultant at the Royal Children’s Hospital.
What led you to study at the University of Melbourne?
Part of my role as a Nurse Consultant with the Victorian Paediatric Integrated Cancer Service is about using evidence to improve and optimise care for children undergoing treatment for cancer in Victoria. My career development in this role involved gaining some further qualifications and a deeper understanding of research so I enrolled in the Master of Advanced Nursing Practice in the Research stream (Minor-thesis).
Reflecting on my clinical work over many years as a paediatric oncology nurse, I felt that one area we needed to investigate more was the management of remote support for families over the phone so my research topic was around telephone triage and advice in the paediatric oncology population. The Royal Children’s Hospital has a strong advocacy and support ethic for nursing research as well as an academic relationship with the University of Melbourne, which lead me to applying to study there.
What are your favourite memories of your time at the University of Melbourne?
As the majority of my work was in developing my thesis, it unfortunately did not leave me with a lot of time on campus. However, revisiting University life as a post-graduate student meant I got to spend time with colleagues like myself who were now bringing their experiences in clinical practice back to the academic world as minor-thesis students to improve some facet of the patient populations they work with. The University ensured we all allocated time to meet on campus to discuss our projects, and I found listening to the diverse group of research questions, challenges and opportunities very interesting.
What/who motivated you at University?
I had excellent support from my academic supervisors both within the University and at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Conducting research and completing a minor-thesis needs a lot of ongoing motivation, and their input and support was invaluable. Of course, knowing that my work would hopefully benefit the patients and families I work with kept up that motivation too.
What motivates you now?
From a personal point of view, I would say my family first and foremost. Professionally, my colleagues motivate me a lot and, as I have already noted, the children and their families that I work with.
What drew you to your area of expertise?
Working interstate in general and emergency paediatrics and trying to manage this highly complex but vulnerable group of patients led me to complete my first Graduate Certificate in Paediatric Oncology in 2003. Since then I have worked across three different sites and three different states.
What do you love about what you do?
Knowing that I have a job that makes real change. One of my other roles is supporting paediatric oncology care in regional outreach, which involves travelling and meeting with staff across the state of Victoria and helping regional families to have care provided closer to home. This is quite a unique role in nursing and brings a lot of satisfaction.
What do you consider to be some of the greatest accomplishments of your life and career so far?
I have been privileged to have been given the opportunity to travel to North America and Europe to both present some of the great work we have been able to do here in Victoria, as well as learn from my overseas colleagues about best practice initiatives in paediatric oncology and meet and network with some inspiring people. I have also been given the opportunity to work in different paediatric tertiary hospitals around the country. Learning from many experts has been a valuable and privileged experience.
What excites you most about the future?
Within my nursing sub-specialty, the rapid translation of molecular research in childhood cancer into the clinical setting in the last few years has been very exciting. Being part of this rapid transition towards a cure is very exciting.
What is good health to you?
Balance and moderation in everything. And, healthy role modelling!
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t get stressed over things that are beyond your control.. that is probably succinct advice for any future Minor-thesis candidate too!