To mark the first National Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist Day, Andrea Worsdale, Lead Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist shares more about her role
Hi my name is Andrea Worsdale and I’m the Lead Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist for Northumbria Healthcare. I have been in this role for the past four years and was a Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist for two years prior to this. My background is in critical care where I worked as Critical Care Nurse and then a Junior Sister before training to do this role. My original career path was to work within palliative care, in either a specialist role or at a hospice, however the opportunity to become a cancer specialist nurse presented itself to me and I came into the role as a real novice but have since learnt a huge amount.
The main appeal of this role was being able to support patients and their families through what can only be described as the most difficult time of their lives. There is so much uncertainty around treatments, symptoms, and life expectancy so my team and I always respond to any questions and act as advocates for our patients to support them through this. Lung cancer treatments and recognition for screening has increased massively during my time in this role and it is very exciting to see new molecular changes and subsequently treatment options becoming available which can help patients get a diagnosis earlier and result in better outcomes.
Over the past couple of years Covid has presented additional challenges to the cancer service. Patients with a cancer diagnosis already have higher levels of anxiety and uncertainty and some patients were scared to attend hospitals and appointments due to the pandemic. We very quickly had to learn a new range of skills to make clinical assessments over the telephone and have very difficult conversations that would normally take place face to face. Looking at the positives from this though, we have learnt new skills and can now provide telephone consultations as a different option in some situations for patients who would prefer this.
Being a Clinical Nurse Specialist is a very rewarding role as I am autonomous practitioner but also get to work very closely within a huge multi-disciplinary team, all with the same goal to provide outstanding care for patients. I think people would be surprised at how many skills, both clinical and non-clinical, are used in this role. I am very proud to be a Clinical Nurse Specialist and can see lots of ways that this role could be developed in the future. I am always looking at opportunities to learn more and I look forward to the next few years to see how the role of a Clinical Nurse Specialist, particularly within lung cancer, can progress.