Regienald “Reg” Gayaman
Clinical Research Nurse
Cancer Centre for Children, The Children’s Hospital at Westmead
Reg’s role as a Clinical Research Nurse is similar to that of a CRA (Clinical Research Associate) but also involves clinical nursing. He’s the bridge between two specialities within the unit – the clinical trials team and the nursing team – so he can appreciate the importance of both roles in the care of paediatric patients. His job involves study coordination, providing patient care and also creation of nurse education materials.
Reg worked as a nurse in the Philippines before moving to Australia in 2014. He initially worked as a clinical research nurse at Sydney Children’s Hospital where he coordinated studies involving investigational drugs for rare diseases experienced by paediatric patients. He spent some time working with adults diagnosed with melanoma, where he first experienced clinical oncology research, and then was able to secure a position in paediatric oncology clinical trials as a clinical research nurse.
“It’s exciting working with children. It’s definitely a challenge. Most children can’t tell you how they’re feeling, they struggle to express what is wrong, so it’s a great sense of fulfillment when you are able to solve a certain problem they’re experiencing.”
Reg explains that, unlike adult nursing which is largely one on one, when working with children, the role encompasses caring for the whole family unit – as aspect that he enjoys. He recalls one family who had two out of the three siblings enrolled in a trial. It was an incredible experience for him to be part of the families’ journey in discovering new treatments for their children’s condition. Since clinical trials run for months, even years, Reg enjoys developing those strong connections with families and gaining their trust.
He acknowledges that some days are incredibly hard and its not easy to switch off. It’s something that comes with practice and he focuses on his own family and recognises he’s doing his best every day. The most rewarding part of Reg’s job is being able to provide some hope to patient’s families.
“There are hard days and there are great days. You see patients responding to treatments and they leave the hospital doing so well and you feel very positive. But then it is difficult when you see a patient struggling because a treatment is not working. It’s so hard to take a patient off the study because the treatment is not working, they’re not responding. Taking away that hope from the family is difficult and we then have to think about next steps for the patient.”
His team at the Cancer Centre for Children are hugely supportive and make a point of finding joy and laughter in every day.
Reg sees the constantly changing treatment options for paediatric patients as very exciting and hopeful. Instead of relying solely on traditional chemotherapy treatments, cancer centres are moving towards targeted therapy options. There are several clinical trials currently open that are examining the molecular characteristics of each child’s tumour to find effective treatment options for these patients. Brain cancer in particular is extremely hard to treat and Reg hopes that in the next 5 to 10 years more targeted treatments can be found to provide better outcomes for children with these cancers.
Reg gains huge satisfaction from his role as clinical research nurse and hopes to work in this field for many years – he can’t imagine himself working anywhere else.
“Every new treatment starts with research. All the treatments provided to patients stem from clinical research and knowing that I am helping to do this, is very fulfilling.”
Below are the different health professionals and researchers we have shone a light on during September
- ANZCHOG Chair (Professor Nick Gottardo)
- Principal Research Fellow (Natalie Bradford)
- Paediatric Oncologist (Dr Tristan Pettit)
- Clinical Nurse Consultant (Helen Starosta)
- Consumer (Anne Kay)
- Pharmacist (Hayley Vasileff)
- Research Scientist (Dr Raelene Endersby)