Nurse Practitioner, Breast Oncology
Natasha Keir is a nurse practitioner in breast oncology at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, Brisbane. She completed a Bachelor of Nursing and Graduate Diploma in Nursing (Critical Care) at QUT and graduated from the Master of Nurse Practitioner course early in 2020.
I always knew I wanted a career in oncology nursing. My mother fought cancer for 10 years and I found that it was the nurses that made the biggest difference in her care. I was motivated to become Queensland’s first nurse practitioner in breast oncology as I wanted to provide quality, accessible, expert nursing care to the patients of St Andrews War Memorial Hospital.
When I had the opportunity to help establish a comprehensive breast-care service at St Andrew’s, I grabbed it with both hands, knowing that they strive to make a difference and have a wonderful culture of support.
In my role as a nurse practitioner, I provide expert advice, comprehensive care, and support to women and men diagnosed with breast disease. The breast cancer journey is complex; I’m there to a point of contact for the patient and their family, and for the multi-disciplinary breast care team.
I know I make a significant difference for patients by ensuring they receive individualised, coordinated care, and to the staff by providing education, leadership, and support. I also make a difference in the wider community through raising breast cancer awareness. But the best part of my job is the phenomenal patients I get to meet and care for--their strength, courage, resilience, and candour inspire me every day.
I completed my undergraduate and post graduate nursing studies at QUT. I always felt they prepared me for what I am trying to achieve in my nursing career. When I was wanting to become a nurse practitioner in breast oncology, I knew that QUT was an industry leader in delivering a well-rounded course that would prepare me for this independent and autonomous role. Plus, the master’s course was accredited with ANMAC and approved by the NMBA, and that was important to me.
The course structure was comprehensive. It enabled me to develop and apply advanced evidence-based knowledge and the critical thinking skills I needed to perform my role. I thoroughly enjoyed the on-campus workshops where we had the opportunity to meet with fellow students and network with course lecturers, tutors, and qualified nurse practitioners from a variety of specialties. I was surprised at how many different specialties were represented by the nurse practitioner students and the incredible work they are doing towards providing expert nursing care to the patients they care for. We covered such a variety of content during these sessions. The course coordinators and lecturers were very approachable and supportive, and they went out of their way to help me succeed.
I would certainly recommend the course at QUT to my colleagues. It was well structured and organised, and I felt that my opinion was sought as to how the course could be improved for upcoming students. At times it was challenging to juggle coursework, work life, and family life, but I found a lot of support, not only from QUT staff, but also my fellow students.
Creating a nurse practitioner position within my specialty of breast oncology is challenging. My experiences at QUT gave me the tools I needed to develop my position and a model of care that supports my role and paves the way for other nurses. And the connections I made throughout the course helped me with valuable advice in establishing my role and guide me through obstacles I faced.