Ever wondered what a day in the life of a breast cancer nurse specialist looks like? Here Steffanie Espiritu, Breast Cancer Nurse Specialist at Cromwell Hospital talks us through what a typical day looks like, and her favourite things about the job.
What made you want to become a breast cancer nurse specialist?
I studied nursing in the Philippines, and then moved to England in 2001 and specialised in women’s health. Being a woman myself and having young female members in the family gave me the hindsight on how I could provide a holistic support for support women (and men) at a very vulnerable time, and how I would like to be looked after if I was in their place.
What part of your role gets you out of bed in the morning?
I am motivated by the challenging aspect of providing a holistic continuity of care for my primary diagnosed and complex patients.
I also feel a ‘belonging’ in my profession as I am a part of a wider team of professionals knowing that my views and ideas are acknowledged when it comes to patients’ care.
At the end of the day, the best part of my job is when patients say, “Thank you for making me feel better today,” and the hugs!
What does a typical day look like for you?
My typical day revolves around the patient’s care pathway. I act as the main point of contact after the patient’s diagnosis. I would provide the patient and their family or carer with tailored information at a specific stage of their cancer journey. My aim is to support the patient holistically as well as their family and carer. I work within a specialised multidisciplinary team where I can refer my patients for any additional support that they might need.
First thing in the morning I do ward rounds to check on patients who may be having, or have had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. I go through the breast clinic lists so I can prioritise who I need to see. Following that, I check my emails and phone calls, checking in with patients who are at home and may have specific questions about their treatment. I then give myself time to go through key documentation such as working on audits, service development and providing learning opportunities for other staff members.
How does your role fit into the wider breast care team?
With regards to the wider team, I act as an intermediary between the patient and the team, ensuring that communication is as clear and smooth as possible. I also support the Breast multidisciplinary team meetings to ensure clear and proper documentation of patient’s care management is practiced at all times.
Your role can be both stressful and challenging, how do you look after yourself to make sure you are 100% for your patients?
I have my clinical supervision every so often and the management team are very supportive. I keep myself updated with my mandatory training as well as appropriate external courses or training that would keep me updated within my role. I am also a member of a wider group of Beast Clinical Nurse Specialists as part of my networking and support system. At the Cromwell we have great staff benefits that help me relax, and of course taking proper breaks!
Ultimately nursing is a passion, and it’s important that you love doing your job!
Visit our careers page if you are interested in being a nurse at Cromwell Hospital