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As part of the advanced epilepsy team at Mater Centre for Neurosciences, Peter Jones has been involved in many firsts: Queensland’s first Stereotactic EEG (SEEG), Australia’s first surgery for epilepsy using a robot, Queensland’s youngest SEEG patient and Australia’s first laser ablation for epilepsy.
With the ultimate goal of changing the lives of thousands of Australians living with refractory epilepsy, Peter’s humbling encounters with patients drove him to add another first to that list: becoming Australia’s first Nurse Practitioner in epilepsy.
“When I started at Mater I thought I knew about epilepsy; I had run a service and I had worked as a NUM in neurology for years. I had the chance to work here with Dr Sasha Dionisio again and I realised at that point ‘I have so much more that I need to learn’.”
Peter said that studying to become a Nurse Practitioner, the highest level of clinical nurse, was the extra push he needed.
“Because you can’t step back, you can’t stop when thinking about the lives of these patients,” he said.
“Neuroscience… it’s not easy medicine. Sometimes we are telling someone that you have a condition for life. MS – that is brutal – or telling someone they have motor neurone disease; that patient might not be back for their second appointment.”
“The part I love about being a Nurse Practitioner is that you get time… when you really do need time in this specialty. I don’t have to limit myself to a certain amount of time per patient,” he said.
Peter said this role allows him to do all the things that made him want to be a nurse in the first place.
“In neurology you have to recognise the severity of the condition, know what to offer, know when to be realistic and be consistent. You’ve got to be a great detective. It is the fine detail that gives you the diagnosis, and that is what we push for: that proper, eloquent, tight diagnosis to give you the best care. The Nurse Practitioner can do that because our job is to follow through.”
Peter’s passion doesn’t go unnoticed by his colleagues: In 2017 he was nominated for Mater’s Mission award and awarded the Health Practitioner of the Year award by Epilepsy Queensland for his significant contribution to the medical care of people with epilepsy.
Dr Sasha Dinionisio, Mater Epilepsy Scientist and Peter’s Clinical Mentor, said Peter’s role as a Nurse Practitioner provides huge clinical support which allows the team to expand their work.
“I always knew he could do it. He the most motivated person I’ve ever met. He loves what he does and we’re very proud of him.”