Pedro Mejia: Improving the quality of life of brain tumour patients

Social workers are essential to patient recovery

Pedro Mejia is a social worker with The Neuro’s Brain Tumour Program. Here Pedro describes his work days and how he does his best to support, understand, and reassure patients to help them cope with their disease.

How did you choose your field?

I started working at The Neuro in August 2000 and spent ten years there before taking a break to hone my training and come back with more tools. I have a master’s in health administration and a graduate diploma in clinical ethics. At one point, I even thought about doing research.

With time and experience, however, I realized that working with patients in the Brain Tumour Program was what I found most rewarding, both professionally and personally, so I returned to the program’s clinic in April 2017. Since then, I have been part of a multidisciplinary team that works with patients diagnosed with a brain tumour.

What is a typical work day like for you?

My day often starts at 7:45 a.m., when I review our patient list to figure out who has been seen and by whom. I then deal with the patients whose cases seem most urgent. I go to the floors to talk to the professionals in my department and to the neurosurgeons and nurses. After I note down all relevant information about the case and discuss it with different professionals in the program, my next step is to see patients or, if they aren’t available or in a condition to answer my questions, I contact the family.

The team and I then manage discharges, which include a psychosocial analysis of each patient’s situation. I have to do an assessment, which consists of creating a sociodemographic profile for each patient, determining their strengths and weaknesses, identifying their personal support network, and making a list of key people they live with or who can help them.

What impact does your work have on patients’ lives?

I have to assess many aspects, such as how patients are doing, their mental state, and their emotional well-being. This also includes how patients perceive the disease, their own illness, and their self-esteem. Another important facet is body image, as we know that brain tumours can affect the person physically. I try to understand what patients are going through while reassuring them.

My main goal is to improve their quality of life. Our team understands how destabilizing a brain tumour diagnosis can be. I personally only see patients with malignant brain tumours, which adds a layer of difficulty to my work.

How do you work as a team to help patients?

As a member of a multidisciplinary team, I work very closely with the neurosurgeon and especially with the occupational therapist, physiotherapist and nurses. We are in direct contact every day to determine how patients are doing and, for example, if they can go back home with CLSC services or if they need inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation.

I also play a big role in partnering with patient families. I act as a liaison between the medical team and the family and between the medical team and the patient, which is essential as neurosurgeons are extremely busy. These doctors, of course, check in with patients before their procedure; however, once the surgery starts, anxiety can rise and suddenly the family realizes they have questions they forgot to ask. I am a resource person in these cases and can communicate with the neurosurgeon or other team members via text or email and report back to the family about the urgency of the situation.



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The Neuro (Montreal Neurological Institute-Hospital) is a bilingual academic healthcare institution. We are a McGill research and teaching institute; delivering high-quality patient care, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. We are proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.



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