A day in the life: working on the support line

Nicci is one of our specialist nurses. This is an example of a day in the life working on the support line.

Morning – replying to emails and working on our publication reviews

I get to my desk with a coffee a few minutes before 9am to log on and look at my plan for the day. I take a quick glance at our Nurse inbox to see what emails have come in and then it’s time to hop onto Zoom for a meeting.  

It’s Wednesday today so the Support Line opens an hour later than usual, at 10 am. Today is an education session: we have a guest speaker from Angiodynamics coming in to talk to us about a treatment called IRE (irreversible electropolation). It’s a really interesting session and I make a few notes to share with one of the other nurses in the team who is on annual leave today.  

I am on afternoon calls which means I will take over the phone at 12:30 so I spend the morning going through my inbox and make a start on one of our publication reviews. This one is the carers booklet and there are some updates that need adding. I will message one of the other nurses first to ask their thoughts then send back to the Information team. 

I move on now to the Nurse inbox to see what emails have come through. I have two emails to reply to from people that I have been in touch with before, one family member asking about palliative care provision for their sister and the second email is from a man diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, asking for more information about chemotherapy, and what questions should he ask the oncology team. I also pick up a new email from someone who is asking about pain medication. 

Once I’ve replied to the emails, I move on to a PowerPoint presentation I am doing for a health professional event next week, but first, just need to make a quick call back to a palliative care nurse who has left a message for me. She is looking to have some information translated into Urdu for a patient that has recently been diagnosed. I discussed this with the Information team and send the palliative care nurse a quick email, explaining how to use Reciteme (an assistive tool that translates text automatically to support accessibility) on our website and an update on translating our information. 

Early lunch for me today, so I can take over the phones from the morning shift nurses. Quick walk out in the fields with the dog, I find it really helps being out in the fresh air and to clear my head before taking over calls this afternoon.  

Afternoon – taking calls on the Support Line

Back from lunch and on to the Support Line, I pop my emails from this morning onto our database and reply to the family member from this morning, who has received my email and has contacted the palliative care team as suggested and they are going out to visit, great news! 

I take three calls this afternoon, the first is from a lady asking about Pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy (PERT) and how she should take it. We went through it together and I signposted her to the brilliant factsheet on our website. The next call was a family member asking about clinical trials for their mum. She has just been diagnosed with locally advanced pancreatic cancer, so we talk this through in detail and I offer to follow up with some suggestions of clinical trials via email. It was a tough call really, they were very upset and didn’t understand why their mum couldn’t have the surgery, lots of unanswered questions and asking about prognosis, lots of emotional support given. I took a few minutes after the call to reflect and talked it through briefly with one of the other nurses, that always helps. The third call is from a person who is really worried about some symptoms they’ve been experiencing recently. We talked it through and planned for them to keep a diary of their symptoms, and to make an appointment with their GP. 

I grab a quick coffee and a cuddle with the dog before making a start on the clinical trials email and need to quickly call a trials coordinator to check some details. I also checked in with the nurses via our daily Zoom chat, one of the others gave an update as they did a clinical trial search recently. This was really useful and once again I’m grateful for having a great team of nurses to work alongside!  

Then it’s 4pm when the Support Line closes, so the last hour (golden hour!) is spent inputting the calls onto our database and doing some background reading of a recent journal for the health professional event presentation. It’s really important we keep up to date with current practice so the information we share is up to date. I make a plan for tomorrow; I am on morning calls and have a meeting in the afternoon I need to do some reading for. But that’s for another day, time to log off