This past February, Mary Kavanagh (Children’s Health Ireland hospital in Crumlin) became our new Nurses Committee Chair, taking over from Elsbeth Müller-Kägi. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Ms Kavanagh about her background, her plans for the future, as well as the challenges associated with nursing care in haemophilia and bleeding disorders in Europe.
Could you tell us a bit more about yourself?
I am from Ireland and have lived almost all my life there. I love being Irish!
I qualified as a general adult nurse in 1996 and as a children’s nurse in 1997. Since then, I have worked as a children’s nurse in an acute hospital setting. I initially worked on a malignant haematology/oncology unit before taking up my post as clinical nurse specialist in haemophilia in 2001.
How did you become involved in haemophilia treatment?
I found myself working in haemophilia purely by chance. I was working on the national children’s malignant haematology/oncology unit. I was asked to apply for my current job as clinical nurse specialist in haemophilia. That was almost 19 years ago…
What is the thing you love the most about your job?
Seeing the children grow up and become so much more than their condition.
What is in your opinion the biggest achievement of the Committee so far?
Creating a forum for nurses working in haemophilia and allied bleeding disorders to meet, network and communicate.
You will be the Nurses Committee Chair for the next two years. What are your plans for the Committee going forward?
The Committee has a number of strategic goals. Personally, I would hope that we can strengthen the haemophilia nurses network throughout Europe and increase communication and assistance between colleagues at all levels. Very often haemophilia nurses work in isolation. An active network will empower nurses through collaboration, dialogue and support.
What do you think are the main challenges you will face?
There are many challenges, not least succession within the Committee. I hope an active network will empower more nurses to apply for a position on the nurses committee.
Next year’s EAHAD Congress is taking place in Manchester, UK. Could you give us a sneak-peek of what we can expect from the dedicated nurses sessions?
We would hope that next year’s programme will build on the themes of the last few years: skills essential to, but not necessarily specific to haemophilia nursing.
Also, the SLAM sessions were very well received this year so we would hope to continue this. I feel it gives nurses a chance to showcase their service, research and work in a non-intimidating environment while allowing the haemophilia nurse community see what other centres are doing.
Do you have any advice for nurses entering the bleeding disorders field?
Haemophilia is a cross generational condition. Every patient has a legacy of their own, but also that of their family.
Last question: if you weren’t a nurse specialising in haemophilia, what type of career would you have followed?
I’m not sure! But what I know for certain is that it would have involved working with children.