Woven Threads: A Case Study of Chemotherapy Nursing Practice in a Rural New Zealand Setting
This descriptive case study was undertaken to provide an account of chemotherapy practice in a nurse-led clinic located within a rural New Zealand area. The researcher, an oncology nurse specialist, worked along side colleagues for thirteen months to enable practice development. This clinic developed out of a need to have services closer to rural patients in order to address issues of equity, access, care integration and the fiscal and social constraints associated with the cancer burden of care. The research provides a vehicle for the voice of the nurses to be heard who provide treatment to these patients. It is also an opportunity for me as the researcher to use the case study to articulate my own narrative and experiences of working and living in this area. Capturing the range of data applicable to this case; the ability to conceptualise it as a service within its context was possible using case study research methods. Four nurses involved in the chemotherapy clinic were participants in this study. The findings of this study reveal that what could be perceived as barriers to outcomes and practice can in essence be turned into opportunities to develop new ways of caring for the patient and supporting nursing practice. These nurses view their practice as safe within the clinic despite resource constraints. They work in many ways to support each other and to cushion the patient from the impact of situational and contextual influences. Nursing practice was shown to evolve as a direct result of internal and external influences which were the impetus for nurses taking responsibility for their own competency. This study also explored what it meant to be an experienced nurse but novice in a speciality practice. It challenges previously held assumptions that, to deliver chemotherapy successfully, a nurse needs to be operating from a previously held body of oncology nursing knowledge. Many challenges are faced on a day to day basis in a rural practice environment to just maintain consistent care and promote good patient outcomes. The nurses are well aware of their role in contributing to patients' quality of life and the roles they take to meet the growing needs of the patient as a consumer. This study delves into the multifarious nature of this nurse-led clinic and discusses the processes and relationships that are forged to deliver care.