During her graduate year, Naomi Brockenshire was presented with an unusual, and incredible, prospect: to become a PhD candidate at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, charged with researching the role of the Clown Doctors.
It has been just over five years since I graduated from the Master of Nursing Science at the University of Melbourne: it simultaneously feels like only yesterday, and a lifetime ago, that I staggered out of the Royal Exhibition Building and collapsed into the arms of my fellow students following our final exam.
Having chosen to specialise in Mental Health Nursing, I spent my graduate year rotating through various specialties within North Western Mental Health: eating disorders and neuropsychiatry at the Royal Melbourne Hospital; the acute adult inpatient unit at Sunshine Hospital; and finally Orygen Youth Mental Health. My second year saw me back at university, enrolled in the Post-Graduate Diploma in Nursing Practice (Mental Health). It was during this year I was presented with an unusual, and incredible, prospect: to become a PhD candidate at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, charged with researching the role of the Clown Doctors. It was a research project that appeared designed specifically for me: combining my love of comedy, and background in performing arts, with qualitative research, spearheaded by an inspiring, supportive Nursing Research Department.
Clown doctors are professional performers who use the ideas and notions of the medical profession to inform their work. The often-subdued environment of a paediatric hospital room is the stage on which clown doctors perform, spending their days spreading mirth and merriment, wonder and excitement, bringing smiles to the faces of children and adults alike. For three and a half years I have been immersed in the colourful world of the clown doctors, and with my final thesis due in April, it is time for me to look to the future.
Nursing has opened unexpected and intriguing doors, allowing me to explore, learn, grow and contribute, in ways I never would have imagined: I cannot wait to see what comes next.