National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Day – Tuesday 15 March 2022
Tuesday 15 March is the first ever National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Day.
This event has been created to celebrate and highlight the strong contribution Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) provide to their patients every day.
CNSs are senior nurses who have completed postgraduate qualifications and acquired specialist knowledge to support cancer patients. They hold regular clinics to support patients through their cancer diagnosis, treatments and follow-up care sometimes for years afterwards.
There are currently 22 CNSs working across 10 different cancer specialties at the Countess.
When Jo Martin, Macmillan Skin Cancer Specialist Nurse, started as a CNS 13 years ago the role was brand new.
One of the things she has enjoyed most over the years since is seeing how both her role and the treatment options available have transformed during that time.
Jo said: “It was a new role when I started and it has evolved so much over time by seeing patients in clinic, assessing them and giving the support they need. I love what I do.”
In Jo’s specialty she often sees her patients for follow-up appointments sometimes for up to five or 10 years afterwards.
Developing close bonds with patients and providing that continuity of care is one of the most rewarding aspects of her role, but she also relishes working so closely with her medical colleagues.
Jo added: “The consultants I work with in dermatology are extremely supportive and inspirational. Working alongside them is fantastic and extremely rewarding.”
Kate Holloway, Lead Nurse for Upper GI Cancers, enjoys the variety in her day-to-day role looking after patients with cancers of the oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, liver and gallbladder.
With some of her patients requiring treatments in other centres, Kate often provides support and liaises between colleagues working across the Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance.
Kate said: “As a region we collaborate really well and it’s excellent for our patients because they’re always getting that specialist input.”
Learning improved communication skills, both with other colleagues like this and patients, is one of the things Kate has most enjoyed about being a CNS.
She added: “I’ve been a nurse for 20 years this year. I would say I’ve developed more over the last 10 years, both as a cancer clinical nurse specialist and palliative care nurse, than I did in the first half of my career.”
Words of advice
Helen Thomas, Lead Cancer Nurse, is urging any nurses who think they would like to become a CNS to find out more about this rewarding role.
Helen said: “Any nurses who are interested in being a cancer specialist nurse should contact the relevant specialist nurse in their organisation and either spend time with them or find out more about it. We’re all happy to help anyone.”
When asked what qualities a CNS needs, Jo said: “I think you need compassion, you need understanding and you need to put your patient first. You need to take their views into consideration with everything that you do.”