My job

60 seconds with Amanda Shewbridge, Macmillan nurse programme lead for living with and beyond cancer

Amanda Shewbridge talks about how she is transforming services for people living with and beyond cancer in south-east London

Amanda Shewbridge talks about how she is transforming services for people living with and beyond cancer in south-east London


Amanda Shewbridge

What is your job?

I am Macmillan nurse programme lead for living with and beyond cancer for the South East London Accountable Cancer Network. I am an honorary tutor at King’s College London and I am currently undertaking a PhD, examining the factors that influence decision-making about treatments for West African women with breast cancer who are living in London.

What does your job involve?

I am leading a programme that will transform acute trusts and primary care services in south-east London for people living with and beyond cancer. In the first year of the programme, we are focusing on improving access to all elements of the Recovery Package, scoping gaps in communication skills training, and mapping supportive care services and the allied health professional workforce.

Why did you become a nurse?

I always knew I wanted to work in health care, but at first I was leaning towards therapies. But then I did work experience while I was in sixth form with a hospital occupational therapy team and I was fascinated by the nursing roles and I never looked back.

Why did you choose to specialise?

As a nursing student, I undertook a placement on the breast unit and I became interested in the research studies into new treatments for breast cancer. It was 1982 and this team already had multidisciplinary team meetings and all the disciplines worked together to deliver patient-centred, innovative care and support. I had not experienced this way of working before and the way that nursing and medical role models worked together here shaped the early years of my career.

What might you have done otherwise?

I really enjoyed the emergency department as a nursing student as you see a broad range of patients with different problems and I enjoyed the opportunity to help so many people who were facing difficult circumstances.

Where have you worked before?

I have held a number of senior clinical, leadership and strategic roles in organisations in south-east London for inpatient and outpatient settings. My clinical nurse specialist role for breast cancer across two NHS trusts was challenging as I had a culturally and socio-economically diverse caseload. My role as lead cancer nurse/matron at Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust helped me develop my strategic and management skills further.

My last role was as the consultant nurse and deputy clinical lead in breast cancer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London, where we embedded nursing advanced practice roles in one-stop diagnostic and follow-up breast clinics. I also led the development of end of treatment clinics and survivorship services for women with breast cancer.

What are the challenges for cancer nursing practice in the 21st century?

Delivering high-quality cancer care in a health service that is under both operational and financial pressure. Cancer nurses need an understanding of the wider challenges facing the NHS while ensuring they continue their own professional learning and keep up-to-date with new cancer treatments and supportive care strategies.

What qualities do you think a cancer nurse should have?

Empathy, compassion, skills in interdisciplinary working, resilience, emotional intelligence, an enquiring mind and motivation for continual learning.

What do you enjoy doing outside work?

As I am doing a full-time job and part-time PhD, I don't have much spare time. Relaxing with family and friends is fundamental for work-life balance. I also love to travel and experience different cultures.

What nursing achievement are you proudest of?

Completing both my BSc and MSc in advancing cancer nursing practice while working full time in clinical roles.

What advice would you give a newly-qualified nurse in your field?

Use the knowledge and expertise of the team members around you and take every opportunity you are offered to learn something new. Never be afraid to ask questions or challenge things that do not feel right. Talk to patients and their families about how their experience could be improved – we can learn so much from them.

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