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A day in the life of our specialist nurses

Posted by: Comms 9 May 2014

It's May already and today is Nurses Day, celebrating the "remarkable difference nursing makes"! We value our brilliant Specialist Nurses, Jeni and Dianne here at Pancreatic Cancer UK; they staff our Support Line, organise and take part in learning events, visit hospitals and specialist centres, attend conferences...and everything in between! Though there isn't a 'typical' day for our super team, they did send us an example of their work lately - so here is a Day In the Life of our Specialist nurses...

A Day in the life of our Specialist Nurses

9am: Start work. Going through emails from previous day - both internal from within the charity, and external from users of the support line, other organisations and health professionals. Spend this time organising our day, as well as dealing with any internal matters.

10am: Support line opens. Calls come direct to the nurses three days a week and to the office two days per week. Many people are relieved not to get an answering machine, recorded message and grateful to have a human voice on the end of the phone. Users of the support line can be first time "contacts", or repeat contacts - those who have called/emailed us previously, and who wish to use our services again. Our calls can be related to anything within the pancreatic cancer journey - waiting for a diagnosis, undergoing investigations, how to navigate the NHS and who to contact, surgery or chemotherapy questions, diet and pancreatic enzyme questions, and symptom control issues.

11am:  First call of the day finished, after 45 mins on the phone. Like many of our calls, this was a diet related issue, specifically pancreatic enzymes, and the correct information around taking these. Our calls vary from 15 mins to over one hour. They can be very emotional, as callers are often upset and very unwell. Both nurses have undertaken Advanced Communication Training, and this is a necessity when dealing with calls of this nature. There are no visual aids or patient medical notes, so we need to ask the correct questions in order to get the right information.

11.15am: Convenience break, and grab a quick cup of tea to drink at our desk.

11.20am: Book flights and trains to Romania for European Cancer Patient Coalition in June, to discuss pancreatic cancer care in Europe.

11.45am: 45 mins prep for presentation for a regional visit to Belfast early June. Phone discussion between nurses to clarify agenda on this, and content for slides.

12.30pm: Lunch!

1.30pm: More emails to finish from earlier on. Two more new callers to the support line, one requiring a follow up email. Much information is contained in the initial contact, and for those who need more support to understand this, a follow up email is sent outlining what we have discussed in the call. These are also often lengthy emails.

3.30pm: Moderation of the Forums. A lot of forum traffic of late, many regular posters, and also new folk joining every day. Some may require more specific medical answers, but most will get great support from the forum community, many who have the same experiences as they do. Direct email to one of the forum users, as complex symptom control issues needing specific medical input and signposting to information. 

2.45pm: Admin preparation for our next regional nurse training event. Emails sent to external speakers, invites to nurses, dietitians and allied health professionals.  Enquiries made about venues, costs, food etc….Dates discussed, and finalised! Great - we are on the way with our next training event! These have evaluated really well so far, and we have only done 2! Project planning for next annual HPB nurses day also.

4.30pm: Quick finishing touches to presentation on pancreatic cancer for next weeks training day with the Chase Farm Hospital nurses. Really looking forward to this one!  

5pm: Finished for the day! Time to cook tea!

Jeni JonesDianne Dobson(Our Specialist Nurses Dianne Dobson and Jeni Jones - read more about them on our Support line page)


If you're looking for support or have  questions about pancreatic cancer, our Specialist Nurses can be reached on 02035357099 or by email: support@pancreaticcancer.org.uk. Our forums are also a brilliant source of support from people affected by pancreatic cancer.