Meet our NUMs: Elise from Sugar Glider!

Our nursing unit managers, better known as “NUMs”, oversee the management of our wards and many departments across the hospital. We have 24 in total and over the next few months, we want to introduce you to the people who lead our teams of wonderful nurses and who ensure all patients receive the great care for which RCH is known.

To kick off today, we want to introduce you to Elise on Sugar Glider. We dropped by to ask her about her role, her favourite RCH memory and what she’d be doing if she wasn’t a nurse.

Here’s what she had to say:

In five words, tell us what you love about your work?

Patients, families, colleagues, meerkats and fish (once they’re back!)

Tell us what a typical day might look like on Sugar Glider!

Every day on Sugar Glider is different to the next! A “typical” day consists of arriving by 7.30am to touch base with night duty staff to make sure their night was OK. I like to hear the end of handover so I have an idea of what’s happening on the ward. I then catch up with the ANUM (associate nurse unit manager) to discuss how the day looks – admissions to the ward, discharges or anything else I need to know about. I work closely with the Clinical Support Nurses to ensure staff are well supported and the Nurse Coordinators to hear updates on our long-stay patients. There are meetings to attend throughout the day: RCH Huddle takes place every morning at 8.30am, as well as Bed Meeting and other working groups which help us deliver great care to our patients.

What makes Sugar Glider and the patients you care for unique from other wards?

Sugar Glider is a 30-bed specialist medical unit. We care for patients off all ages – from a few days old to adolescents – with a range of acute and chronic illnesses. We have four medical specialties: General Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, ENT (Ear, nose and throat), and Neurodevelopment and Disability. We also have a high dependency area that caters for children with complex medical requirements – patients with tracheostomies, and full ventilation via a tracheostomy. We also help the Respiratory Medicine team and conduct sleep studies on patients. A lot of our patients are known to us so despite the fact they are in hospital; I think they appreciate having a familiar face caring for them!

Tell us about your RCH journey.

I was fortunate to have had two clinical placements as an undergraduate student and was convinced RCH was the hospital I wanted to work in. I completed my graduate year in 2010 and rotated to two wards – Children’s Cancer Centre and 4Main (Plastics/Burns/Ortho) in the old hospital building. I stayed with 4Main and moved in to the new hospital to Platypus where I completed my Postgraduate Diploma, the BEST Practice Program, and became a Clinical Nurse Specialist. Shortly after that, I became an ANUM and was given the opportunity to cover the NUM role. I enjoyed management and leading the team which has led me to other NUM opportunities within the organisation. I covered the role in Day Medical and Sugar Glider – where I am now a permanent NUM!

What is the most rewarding thing about your current role?

I like to remain present and visible on the unit so staff, patients and families know that they can contact me with any queries or concerns they may have. I like that staff feel comfortable discussing their concerns with me and that they feel supported and listened to. I enjoy leading and mentoring staff to guide them to make the right decision and like them knowing that we will always find a solution to a problem together. I also love working within the multidisciplinary team and collaborating across different specialties (nursing, medical and allied health) to create care plans and goals for patients to return home as soon as they’re medically stable.

What is your favourite RCH memory or achievement?

Moving into the new hospital! I still remember like it was yesterday. I was on 4Main and assisted moving patients across to the new hospital. Secret hallways and corridors which made the move exciting – a real buzz on the day! It was quite overwhelming once we made it to the new hospital though – despite multiple orientation sessions, the walls all looked the same so it took a long time to find my bearings!

How do you relax after a long shift?

Most nights I go the gym, other nights I’ll go out for dinner with friends and enjoy a nice meal and glass of wine – it’s all about balance!

If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing instead?

I always knew I wanted to work with children so had thought of becoming a teacher. The school holidays were pretty attractive!

If you could be any animal in the world, what would you be and why?

A lion – as a Leo myself I like to think that I’m proud, courageous and a fearless leader!

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