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22nd February 2024 Latest News

Empathy in action – Success for resident palliative care doctors

Nicki Pennifold and Tiger Huang cropped

Palliative care doctors play a crucial part in enhancing the quality of life for patients facing serious illnesses.

Not only do they focus on symptom management, but on addressing the emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and their families.

The dedication and compassion that these healthcare professionals bring to their work has been embodied in Laurel Hospice’s recent resident palliative care doctors, Tiger Huang and Nikki Pennifold.

Resident doctors are exposed to a diverse range of patient cases, allowing them to develop a nuanced understanding of the unique challenges faced by individuals dealing with serious illnesses.

Through hands-on experiences, role-playing scenarios and mentorship opportunities, residents learn to navigate difficult conversations with sensitivity and compassion, ensuring that patients feel heard and supported throughout their journey.

Tiger completes his four-year placement in February 2024, aiming to become a palliative care registrar driven by his passion for breaking down the stigma around death and dying.

By working closely with patients and their families, he has experienced first-hand the difference a ‘good death’ can make for patients and that legacy for their loved ones.

Rural medicine and regional palliative care has spiked Nikki’s interest, having spent time in Mount Gambier, finding it an underserviced region with its own set of challenges.

Although, one standout moment that has stayed with Nikki involved a young patient in her late 20s who spent six weeks at Laurel Hospice.

During that time, family members came from overseas to visit and her pets made surprise appearances at the hospice.

“Working in palliative care confirmed to me that we are doing things that really matter and are making a difference. I have taken a little piece of that with me and during every patient interaction,” said Nikki.

To work in this area requires a specialised skillset, a commitment to your colleagues to achieve the best outcomes for patients at this vulnerable stage, and a deeply empathetic approach to care.

It is an emotionally challenging job, and we’re very proud of the staff who turn up for palliative care patients and each other, every day.

Tiger and Nikki’s success is a celebration of their dedication to compassionate care.

As they embark on their careers, we are confident that they will continue to make a profound difference in the lives of those they serve, upholding the principles of empathy, collaboration, and excellence in palliative care. We wish them all the best!