Ministry of defence Republic of Serbia

Andja Grubisic - nurse of the year at the MMA

Andja Grubisic, Head Nurse of the MMA Clinic for Haematology, was at work when we visited her. She greeted us with a pleasant, discreet smile and a hearty handshake, and then, with a steady pace, she led us to her room; the room in which everything is at its place – not crowded, tastefully decorated, improved with flowers. This job in the clinic is, as she says, her first job position and another family.

We "stole" half an hour of her precious time and enjoyed the company and conversation with a cause, as she has recently been proclaimed a nurse of the year of the Military Medical Academy. She was elected unanimously.

Years of work
And who is Andja Grubisic? As she says, she is very thorough person, a perfectionist, workaholic and dedicated to the work she loves, and accountable to the institution where she works – the MMA – to the patients, colleagues, family. The years added to her character self-confidence, calmness, gentleness in dealing with people and patients, but also the authority, which she undoubtedly enjoys.

Apart from her work at the clinic, she is engaged in various associations – she is a member of the Association of Medical Technicians of Serbia and the European Society for bone marrow transplantation. She is the author of several papers and publications, which she presented at meetings at home and abroad, and participates in the education of young colleagues and cadets of the MMA Faculty of Medicine.

Everything that she achieved in her life she has acquired with large efforts and conscientious work. Of course, it was enough for her to be selected as the best nurse at the MMA for 2015.

She has been working at the Clinic for Haematology for 35 years. She started as a young nurse, and then a responsible sister; she climbed up step by step, progressed in service, completed the school for senior nurses, to become a head nurse in 2004.

The work of nurses and technicians at that clinic is different from others. Some would say that the job there is the most difficult one.

- Our clinic treats the most severe patients – with malignancies; primarily, malignancies of blood and blood-forming organs. These are acute and chronic leukaemia, malignant tumours then the lymph nodes tumours, the so-called lymphomas, and myelomas, while also curing benign diseases of the bone marrow, aplastic anaemia. As part of our clinics, there are two divisions and the Transplantation Centre. The role of our nurses is very complex and specific and requires psychophysical readiness and great responsibility, because they participate in making the diagnosis, which is not at all naive because these are invasive methods, then in the therapeutic approach, which involves the use of chemotherapy and all the side effects and complications that go with the application of this therapy. A nurse, of course, takes part in daily patient care and care of, unfortunately, terminal patients. All this requires our nurses to be very knowledgeable and caring. A head nurse must be extremely capable and constantly teaches young colleagues, as our patients are treated according to international principles and protocols – Andja Grubisic speaks.

And everything that is required from nurses should be demonstrated by personal example.

Professionalism at work
The most severe patients suffering from malignancy, apart from a professional attitude in treatment, need also care, which must be perfect, primarily at the Centre for transplantation; but even more. It is human to sympathize with them, their suffering, illnesses and sometimes to get emotionally attached to patients. In the medical profession, it is always a question how to achieve this professional distance.

- It is very difficult. Even after three and a half decades, I am not able to do this. We can act as if we are professionals, but when you see a young man or anyone else to whom you can help and who has the toughest disease diagnosed, it is very difficult, nurse Andja speaks.

Besides, their patients, according to her, are mostly young people, especially those who are coming from the transplantation, and are 18, 19 or 20 years of age.

- These young people prepared for transplantation are mainly suffering from acute leukaemia and they are receiving high doses of cytostatic drugs, which cause many complications. They are then life-threatened because it can cause bleeding, infection. And medical care is there very important, but the most important thing is nice word and humane approach to the patient – the head nurse of the Clinic says.

She says that after the great effort and difficulties in taking care of patients, it is real satisfaction for her and her fellow nurses when they see them coming after the control examinations feeling good, even cured. They rejoice when they find out that a patient got married, and even more so when they get a baby. After this good news, one forgets all the hardest night shifts, and all the worries about the patients.

The Clinic for Haematology is mainly a female team, including just a couple of medical technicians, and as Andja Grubisic says, the nurses are extremely sacrificial when it comes to trading shifts with each other and offering hand to each other.

Recognition for the profession
The recognition she received is a personal satisfaction for her decades-long work, but she believes that these prizes show respect for the nursing profession because they work hard on a very responsible job.

- Indeed, we work so much that it should be respected. The nursing profession should be much more respected in our country, because a nurse is the one who has the first contact with the patient and stays with them 24 hours a day. It is recognised everywhere in the world, and it should be so in our country as well – Andja Grubisic says.

The recognition she received she takes very seriously and stimulating for her future work, primarily with patients, and also in educating the young colleagues.

- All my current and future activities will be directed towards maintaining the integrity of the most valuable and most responsible nurse at the MMA because that institution deserves it, being one of a kind in the country.