4 October 2019

Getting to know our nurses

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Written by

Rotunda IVF

Deirdre Rankuan
Ruth O'Toole

Getting to know our Nurses

We sat down with our fertility nurses Deirdre Ramkaun and Ruth O’Toole and found out about their day, how they got into fertility and they challenges they can faces.  

What is involved in your daily routine?

Deirdre: The alarm goes off at 6 a.m. and I make it in for work at 8. I generally start the day with a coffee and a chat with my colleagues! Everyone from doctors, nurses, embryologists, healthcare assistants, patient coordinators and housekeeping all get on really well and it’s so nice coming into that environment every morning!

The nurse’s role is very diverse, there is a large amount of patient interaction. It is divided into three different areas and everyone rotates. There is scheduling, scanning and theatre.

In scheduling, you could be on the phones answering queries, meeting patients and explaining the process and educating them on how to take their medications. We would also book future appointments. The nurse is essentially the go between for the patient and clinic.

In scanning you have to have a large amount of expertise and experience behind you. You also need to keep up to date with all the changes as it is an ever evolving industry. We would also discuss outcome of results with patients too.  Empathy is so important as it is a difficult journey for patients.

In theatre and recovery the majority of patients are excited or nervous so you have to be able to put them at ease and answer any further questions they may have. We would perform egg collections, embryo transfers, scratches, cannulations and post op care. 

Ruth:  

The daily routine varies according to the needs of the clinic however the clinic has 3 core areas.

- Ultrasound department where treatment cycles are monitored

- Theatre and recovery area where egg collections, embryo transfer/ IUI's and investigations take place.

- Scheduling department where we meet couples following their consultations, discuss and arrange treatment cycle.

The nursing role is a complex one, one which can change through the day according to the needs of the patients and clinic.

My days begins at 7.30 in the U/S department monitoring treatment cycles, assessing their progress, taking bloods, teaching, educating and helping the patient understand their treatment and response to medications. It also involves preparing couples for egg collections, embryos transfers and intrauterine inseminations.

This can be an emotional time for couples so our role often involves counselling and reassuring patients.

In the afternoon we have a clinical meeting. It involves reviewing all the patients who have had scans that morning, reviewing all the bloods results, and communicating any changes to the patients regarding their treatment, medication and doses.

In between all that we answer calls and deal with email queries.

So as you can see there is a wide diversity to our role and routine.

How did you get into fertility and what do you like about it?

Deirdre: I have a background in women’s health and qualified as a nurse in 1993 in the UK. I worked in the early pregnancy unit and I started to meet patients who had had babies through IVF treatment so that started to interest me in the whole area. I then moved back to Ireland in the early 00’s. I started in Sims and I just wanted to get everyone pregnant! In 2008 I moved to Rotunda IVF, I just love working with the team here.  

I love the diversity of my role and it is definitely the right career choice for me as I have been doing it for 19 years! There is so much job satisfaction in advising and supporting those that are going through treatment.  I also really enjoy the scientific side of it too, how it is always evolving.

Ruth: I trained as a Registered Nurse and Midwife and have worked in women health most of my career. I first came into contact with the world of Reproductive Medicine while working in the Rotunda Hospital Operating Theatre.

Diagnostic and investigative procedures into Infertility were carried out here and it aroused my curiosity leading me to take up a job in the clinic attached to the Rotunda.

I have been working here now for 11 years.

What would be the challenges of working in this role?

Deirdre:  The challenges are that the patients are often emotionally wrought and drained going through treatment. Delivering news that a cycle is not going so well or needs to be cancelled or a negative pregnancy result is really hard on me. We as nurses really feel for the patients so we are right there with them when there is a negative outcome. However during a pregnancy scan seeing that first little heartbeat is the most rewarding feeling and it is amazing that we get to share that with the patient. Patients often keep in touch and give us updated pictures of their little miracles which we love!

Ruth: The biggest challenge would be breaking the bad news, the negative pregnancies. It is so important to bring the human element in when breaking the bad news. Counselling a huge part of our role. You can’t just empathise you have to feel as it is a highly emotive field to work in. One of the highlights for me is that if you can make the journey any way easier for the patient then it’s a job well done. We really do try understand and make patients aware that we are with them all the way. 

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