Cambodian nurse, Pisey, is a true pioneer. In a country where the concept of palliative care has not historically been understood, she is a leader. Within her own sphere of influence, she is shaping a new way by showing colleagues what compassionate end of life care looks and feels like and why it is so crucial.
Based at Mercy Medical Centre in Phnom Penh, Pisey is the one nurse in the team caring for patients in the new two palliative care beds at the facility, which are the first of their kind in the country. She is described as working relentlessly at patient level with a strong belief in the importance of education.
Pisey demonstrates a heart of compassion and is confident and enthusiastic when demonstrating to other health care professionals how compassion can reduce suffering for patients and their families. The word ‘compassion’ does not translate directly in the Khmer language, so Pisey shared her personal nursing experience through patient stories to help the students understand what it is.
What drives you to make a difference?
Pisey has undertaken voluntary teaching to share her knowledge and experience with healthcare colleagues. She is eager to learn and teach others, and thanks to Pisey’s influence there has been a culture shift from an attitude of ‘there is nothing more to be done’ to one of embracing the hope and dignity that can be offered through palliative care. For Pisey, she understands that when some one is dying it can have huge ramifications on the family; both in terms of grief and also being able to cope financially. She sees very much the family unit as the focus of care and is working to build a wider network of support for grieving families.
Pisey understands that it is only through working in collaboration will it be possible to change government policy and to campaign for better access to appropriate pain relief for patients. There is still a long way to go to ensure access to much needed opioids.
Ultimately, Pisey would like to study for a master’s degree, while her long-term objective is to be a Professor of Nursing and introduce palliative care to the general nursing curriculum within her country. Pisey feels so strongly about the importance of palliative care that she is planning to ask the school of nursing where she trained, if she can deliver an introductory course in palliative care so others can benefit.
She has ambition and the potential to become a significant leader of palliative care nursing in her country.