My job

Macmillan lead cancer nurse

Jane Pickard thrives on the chance to influence the future of cancer services

Jane Pickard, Macmillan lead cancer nurse at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, explains why she has embraced cancer nursing

Jane Pickard

What does your job involve?

I work collaboratively with clinical teams to ensure that the trust provides high-quality patient care and achieves its performance objectives in cancer care and management.

I also lead on the Living With and Beyond Programme, which aims to improve access and support for people living with cancer in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.

Why did you become a nurse?

As a child, I loved a comic called Twinkle. My favourite story was Nurse Nancy about a girl who helped her grandfather mend broken toys. I knew I wanted to help people and make them better. I wouldn’t have wanted to do anything else.

How did you come to work in the field?

When I first qualified, I spent time in different specialties, including medicine, intensive care and surgery, to gain experience.

I met many people with cancer and wanted to learn more.  

The ward sister of the ward where I was a staff nurse encouraged me to learn more about cancer and supported me to develop in my role.

This meant I fulfilled a wide range of nursing roles throughout my career, including ward sister, clinical nurse specialist and matron.

All of these roles were fantastic in the opportunities they provided along with the people I met along the way, including colleagues, patients and their families.

What might you have done otherwise?

Nothing else, I’ve only ever wanted to be a nurse.

Where have you worked previously?

After qualifying in Northampton, I spent a year there before moving to Leicester.  

Since moving here, I have spent more than 30 years working mainly in the acute trust, as well as four years at the local hospice.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love the fact that no two days are the same. I meet amazing people living with cancer who inspire me to want to make a difference to improve services.

I am also privileged to manage clinical nurse specialists who are passionate about developing services for their patients and their families.

Working alongside the wider corporate nursing teams and clinicians to help shape services for the future is exciting and gives me the chance to influence the future of cancer services.

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

Today’s challenges are related to workforce, including training due to bursary changes and recruitment. There is a shortfall of nurses and many clinical nurse specialists with useful knowledge, skills and experience are retiring.

What qualities do you think a cancer nurse should possess?

As with every nurse, be the patient’s advocate. Listen to what matters most to a patient, treat a patient as you would like to be treated yourself and, most of all, be professional, compassionate and empathetic.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I love spending time with my family and friends, going to the theatre and walking my little dog, Ted.

What nursing achievement are you proudest of?

On a personal level, I’m most proud of achieving a master's degree in advanced cancer nursing practice and being awarded a scholarship for the National Cancer Nursing Leadership Programme.

Professionally, it’s the little things that make me most proud, such as a smile and a thank you.

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

Believe in yourself. There are so many opportunities. Grab every chance to learn more, but most of all listen to your patients and their families as they know what matters most of all.

Nursing is a fabulous career and the people you work with will become your work family for life. Embrace it all.

Find out more

Macmillan Cancer Support – The Macmillan Living With And Beyond Cancer Programme

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