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“I am an upper gastro-intestinal (GI) clinical nurse specialist and I provide support to both the patients and their carers at many points of their cancer journey. The upper GI covers cancer of the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas and liver including primary and secondary liver cancers, bile duct and gall bladder.

“As the key contact for patients I am at the centre of their care and help improve the cancer experience for them. I coordinate care services, providing the relevant information and appropriate liaison between other professionals and agencies and provide clinical advice to patients, as well as practical advice when they have financial and employment issues.

“I completed my BSc in Nursing in 1998 in the Philippines and took up a nursing post in Belfast from 2001 – 2003. I then decided to join the NHS and moved to York to work as a staff nurse on the haematology and oncology ward. When York Hospital created the specialist unit in 2008, I became a deputy ward sister and in 2012 I was appointed as Upper GI clinical nurse specialist.

“I wanted to work in a hospital environment because it provides opportunities for me to expand my knowledge with training and by working alongside experts. I also planned to grow within my nursing career, so I wanted to work in a facility where I could progress to higher levels of nursing care and responsibility.

“Being a nurse is not a profession for the faint-hearted and not everyone is cut out to be a nurse. Nurses deal with life, death, and everything in between. But the job is also considered to be one of the most satisfying and all-encompassing jobs in healthcare.

“There’s no such thing as a routine day in our work as cancer nurse specialist. We have a wide range of responsibilities and tasks that we are continuously prioritising. Our patients’ cancer journey can be a complex and disjointed pathway, sometimes our patients are being cared for over 2-3 weeks in the hospital and can deteriorate quickly. Despite the complex disjointed journey, the clinical nurse specialist is there to provide seamless communication between hospital sites and other health care professionals.

“We help reduce patients’ anxiety, for what is already a very stressful time in their lives. Working together and good communication are vital. We provide our patients and their family with support at many points of their journey – from diagnosis to end of life or survivorship.

“The camaraderie among the nurses and other healthcare professionals make tough days easier, and good days even greater. I enjoy the sense of teamwork. I have a great job and I get to make people’s lives a little better. For most part, I’m treated with respect, and I work with a great group of people.

“The NHS is a wonderful place to work. It values its employees and encourages them to learn, grow, and innovate inside the organisation. Employees happily work here for many years and there are plenty of ways to advance your career if you are willing to work hard.

“Despite the challenges and negative publicity the NHS faces on a regular basis, it continues to move forward as a result of advanced medical technology and science. People now live longer as a result of medical advancement. There are more treatments available for patients that were not available in the NHS ten years ago, which leads to positive patient outcomes. Additionally, we have seen the evolvement of specialist nursing roles such as mine to cope with changed patient demand. Overall, my job is challenging but rewards far outweigh the negatives and the opportunity to make a positive impact makes it all worth it.”

16 July 2018

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