I work as an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP), colorectal cancer and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), at Cork University Hospital (CUH). Some mornings start with a multidisciplinary team meeting where patients’ options are discussed. For some, this will mean further investigation, for others, surgery or other treatments, which are organised quickly — not like in the past where a patient was referred from one specialist to the next before a decision was made.
Clinics are two days a week, where at least 20 new referrals are seen. Conditions we see include bleeding from the bowel or a change in bowel pattern which can be a sign of haemorroids, diverticular disease or colorectal cancer. Of every 100 patients we see, six have cancer. We can do a lot in outpatients now, from biopsies to scans. We interview patients to determine symptoms. The vast majority leave with a simple explanation. For those diagnosed with cancer, we talk them through their options. We also provide dietary and lifestyle advice and promote public awareness. This includes giving talks at conferences.
If I’ve time before lunch, I visit wards to check on patients, post surgery. Patients usually form a bond with the ANP. I am at the centre of their care, coordinating appointments, organising investigations, giving a diagnosis where required, preparing patients for surgery and providing emotional and psychological support. I am the main coordinator of care for those with a serious diagnosis and the main carer for those with less serious conditions.
Half-hour break, usually at my desk. On Wednesday or Thursday, I have an outpatient clinic in the afternoon where 20 to 25 return patients are seen. Otherwise, I could spend half a day doing admin work, triaging letters from GPs, depending on the urgency of symptoms.
When not in clinic or doing ward visits, a lot of time is spent ringing patients with results.
I finish at different times, 6.30pm should be the latest. Then it’s home to Innishannon to three kids, husband and maybe pilates or aerobics.