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Women at Work: Denise Nichols

Ashleigh Went

Ask anyone with contacts or glasses and most will tell you that beyond the librarian chic visage, it can be a right pain in the derriere.

That’s one of the reasons many are turning to Canberra Eye Laser, and thanks to people like Denise Nichols, treatment is a breeze. Denise is Nursing Unit Manager at Canberra Microsurgery and Canberra Eye Laser, a job she truly loves – in no small part due to the “wonderful” patients and staff.

This year marks 26 years since Denise first joined the team in 1989, and she says she’s enjoyed “pretty well every moment of it.”

“I’ve always been an operating theatre nurse,” Denise says. “I think initially when I first finished my training I particularly liked the thrill of the operating theatre and emergency work. I did a lot of neuro and orthopaedics, and all the trauma that came in the door.”

Denise undertook her post graduate training via distance education as she had two young children to care for.

“When I had my children I decided to consolidate what I’d been doing, so I did a perioperative nursing course, ophthalmic nursing as well as a graduate diploma in management.”

Denise worked at the old Canberra Hospital before going to John James Hospital. When her second child Emma was born, she began “helping out a friend at the eye centre” and the rest, as they say, is history.

Denise Nichols

Her career highlights include witnessing the technological developments in laser surgery.

“We started off with a manual keratome [the surgical instrument used for making the flap] and now laser surgery is bladeless. I’ve seen all the changes right from the word go it’s been fantastic,” Denise says.

“We’re always upgrading – we’ve had three different lasers in that time and now we’re doing SMILE which is the latest technique.”

Denise’s work has granted her the opportunity to travel many times, including a trip to Canada to research laser centres prior to the development of Canberra Eye Laser.

It’s also a career that’s enabled her to spend time with her family.

“This particular facility is very supportive of families and children, I couldn’t have picked a better place for that. I used to bring the children sometimes to surgery with us – a lot of the patients actually remember my daughter Emma and ask about her and what she’s up to.”

These days, Denise spends her time on the day to day running of the facility, organising the staff, the stock and “pretty well generally everything.”

“I just love doing what I do, I’d like to keep doing it for as long as I can” she says.

“I can’t imagine not working, it’s a fantastic team we have here, the doctors are wonderful, everything about it is wonderful. I’m very lucky.”

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author