Working Life: Sharon Guirey, nurse specialist, lung cancer

Up to 90% of those attending clinic are current or ex-smokers.


I work in Cork University Hospital and begin with clerical work, responding to emails regarding patient care, communication from agencies such as the Irish Cancer Society or in relation to education.

I check what patients are in for surgery or day-case procedures, to plan my ward round. When time permits, I co-ordinate appointments for new referrals, for example, tests required prior to attending clinic.


On Mondays, together with the respiratory consultants, we run the Rapid Access Lung Clinic (RALC). Here we see those with suspected lung cancer, referred by their GP, or other hospitals. Many would have a suspicious symptom — coughing up blood and/or some concern on radiology ie Xray or CT scan.

Up to 90% of those attending clinic are current or ex-smokers. Smoking cessation advise/ support is an important function of the clinic. Our aim is to see the majority of new referrals within two weeks. I carry out breathing tests and I co-ordinate some investigation appointments — bloods, CT biopsy or PET scan.

Others attending the clinic are returning for a lung cancer diagnosis and treatment plan or may have completed treatment and are back for surveillance. I’m involved in the surgery end of treatment. Approximately 20% of patients have surgery as a treatment option. The majority have chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy. My role includes giving patients and family practical information to deal with their illness.


Clinic ends and I break for lunch.


I return calls I missed during clinic. I may have to contact a GP if someone in the clinic was distressed going home. I also spend time preparing for our Tuesday morning multi-disciplinary team meeting (MDT).


I visit inpatients, prioritising those in for day-case procedures, (anyone likely to have a cancer diagnoses confirmed at the MDT in the morning) and those after lung cancer surgery who are out of intensive care.


Home to my family. Down time includes catching up with friends, walking and reading.

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