ACT News


Meet James Slade, the ACT's 2017 Nurse of the Year

For James Slade, treating his patients - children and adults with lifelong haemophilia-related illnesses - is not just about caring for them, but caring about them.

The 37-year father of two took out this year's ACT Health Nurse of the Year Award for his compassionate work treating patients with serious cancers and lifelong haemophilia.

He was one of several nurses and midwives recognised with an award last week, including Michelle Thinius, the 2017 ACT Midwife of the Year, and the Rapid Assessment Unit at the hospital's cancer centre.

While he once considered a career as a teacher, Mr Slade said he was drawn to nursing.

"I wanted a job that worked with people, and not your regular nine-to-five type career, where I could really utilise what I felt I had, which were skills of compassion and empathy and I really like helping educate people," he said.

"It was really a natural progression for me towards nursing; for its diversity of positions and disciplines, where you can work in surgical nursing, or on the wards or in medical management, or in cancer treatment."


While he tried some other disciplines it was a stint at Calvary Hospital in cancer services, helping treat people with varied cancers including leukaemia, where he found a professional home.

"Often in nursing, our goal is to treat patients and they get better, they move on and go into remission," he said.

"Whereas the patients I look after in haemophilia, they are born with these conditions and they'll live with it for the rest of their lives - for a nurse or doctor, that's a really unique situation to be in, that you can really develop a relationship with a patient."

Nominated by Zach Minty, a six-year-old patient of his and Zach's mother Rebecca, who is also secretary of the Haemophilia Foundation ACT, Mr Slade said just to be nominated was outstanding and "a real show of the compassion the haemophilia community have for each other".

"I now consider myself a part of that community - a link between the patients and the services we provide them," he said.

"You have to have that level of caring about a patient, you still have your boundaries between the professional and the personal, but that doesn't stop you caring about them."

Mr Slade said that to be told by the people you care about that you're doing a good job had made his day.

"I love it [the job], of course, with any job there are good and bad days, but days like today, that's what makes it special and these ones can keep you going for a few years, days like today," he said.

Mr Slade said he also wanted to acknowledge the work of all the other award winners, and especially the rapid assessment team in the cancer centre.

The other individual award winners for 2017 were: Canberra Hospital ICU nurse Therese Knight, for Excellence in Clinical Practice; Carmel Ronning from Ward 2N at Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, for Excellence in Leadership Practice and Carolyn Thomas, from Canberra Hospital's child and youth services central regional team, for Excellence in Management Practice.

Two other teams were also recognised with awards: the intensive and coronary care unit education team at Calvary Public, for Excellence in Educational Practice and the coronary care unit nursing team at Canberra Hospital for Excellence in Quality Improvement or Research.