Working life: What it's like to be a paediatric cystic fibrosis clinical nurse

Geraldine Clancy, cystic fibrosis (CF) clinical nurse specialist, paediatrics, Tallaght University Hospital

5.30am

I’m up at dawn to feed the cats, ready myself for work, and leave everything out for my five-year-old, James. I take the 6.30am bus from Blessington, Co Wicklow to Tallaght. My husband Adrian drops James to school or creche.

7am

At the hospital, I log on to my computer and check the day’s schedule and diary and see if there were any new admissions overnight. I head to a management meeting to discuss any inpatient/ward issues, followed by a coffee and fruit back at the office.

9.30am

A baby newly diagnosed with CF, identified via the National Newborn Screening Programme, is my first appointment for education. All newborns are screened for CF as part of the heel-prick test since 2011. Once CF is identified as at risk, we make arrangements for further testing.

The parents and baby spend most of the day at the hospital where I try to give them a good understanding of what CF involves and where they meet the multidisciplinary team who will also be involved in their child’s care.

I liaise with the public health nurse, the GP, and community pharmacist about the baby’s diagnosis. It’s an emotionally demanding day for parents.

2.30pm

I’ve a bite to eat before returning to the office. Newborn screening, based at Temple St Children’s Hospital, has identified another baby they believe at high risk of CF. I need to arrange a sweat test, the gold standard for diagnosing CF and inform the parents.

3pm

I return to the wards and make arrangements to discharge a patient on home IV antibiotics. Before going home, we train patients and family to administer antibiotics intravenously, to reduce hospital stays and the risk of cross infection. I liaise with companies that make the home IVs and arrange for their delivery to the patient’s home.

4pm

Back in the office, I conduct patient assessments over the phone, renew prescriptions and organise reviews.

6pm

I get the bus home, collect James, and catch-up on housework. Later in the evening, I go out for a run.

Cystic Fibrosis Ireland’s fundraiser, 65 Roses Day, takes place on Friday, April 12. To support it, buy a Purple Rose for €2 or donate online at 65RosesDay.ie

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