Nurse Sue Le Roux says patients facing an endoscopy - having a long tube with light and camera attached inserted through their nose and into their throat - handle the discomfort differently.
The unease some associate with the procedure is enough to make them faint, while others are anxious that what shows up on the connected monitor could be cancer.
Le Roux says a patient she looked after recently had her hands clenched into fists during the procedure. In situations such as these, Le Roux is inclined to hold the patient's hand, pat their shoulder or offer some encouraging words.
"I've been nursing a long time, so I'm quite adept at assessing people as they're having procedures and then post-procedures," she says.
Le Roux is an ear, nose and throat nurse at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital. Her job requires some administration but is predominantly clinical. Primarily, Le Roux is on hand to advocate and care for patients, but she also helps doctors with procedures.
Le Roux trained to become a nurse at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and became registered in the late 1960s. Since then, she has nursed at the Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital, Portsea Quarantine Station, Royal District Nursing Service and the Royal Children's Hospital.
She has experience in paediatrics and neurology/neurosurgery and has held diverse positions, including nurse-unit manager and clinical educator.
Le Roux's qualifications include a postgraduate diploma of education, bachelor of applied science and clinical-based qualifications related to infectious diseases and intensive care.
"People say that the world is your oyster if you're a nurse because you can go anywhere with it and I've certainly worked in lots of places."
Le Roux says working with the eye and ear hospital has given her the chance to perform outreach work with the indigenous population. She recently returned from the Northern Territory, where she took part in community health clinics that deliver ear health, early detection and intervention services. These approaches are important in Alice Springs, Le Roux says, because ear disease is a growing problem in the region.
Le Roux says it's rewarding to know she is helping to fight diseases that are detrimental to language development, education and social interaction in the community.
The next career step for Le Roux is to become a clinical nurse specialist. Beyond that, she looks forward to being involved in the development of a nurse-led clinic at the eye and ear hospital.
"The word retirement doesn't exist for me," she says.
"I plan to keep working because I enjoy it and feel that I'm making a contribution."
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