My job

My job: general manager of cancer and outpatient services, Pat McClelland

Pat McClelland, general manager of cancer and outpatient services, Northern Trust, Northern Ireland discusses the importance of having a five-year plan.

Pat McClelland, general manager of cancer and outpatient services, Northern Trust, Northern Ireland, won the 2016 Brownlee-Silverdale leadership award at the RCN Northern Ireland nurse of the year awards.

Pat McClelland

What is your job?

I am general manager (GM) of cancer and outpatient services in the Northern Trust, Northern Ireland. I work with multidisciplinary teams, regional and trust teams to develop and provide cancer services.

Why did you become a nurse?

I always wanted to be a nurse. Playing nurse was my favourite childhood pastime, and as I progressed through school, getting qualifications to enter nursing was my main aim. If I wasn’t a nurse, I might have run my own shop selling giftware, or tried a career in horticulture as I loved working on the family market garden.

What does your role entail?

I work as part of the trust, several regional teams and the voluntary sector to develop cancer services for patients and carers. In February I accepted responsibility for outpatient services across the trust, which is an exciting challenge and one I look forward to developing in light of the new reform agenda.

Why did you choose to specialise?

In the 2007 restructuring of the health service, I applied and was successful in obtaining a senior manager post as GM for cancer services.

What was your previous role?

I worked in Craigavon and Lurgan in medical specialties for two years after qualifying, gaining knowledge of medical patient care.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love working with patients, and training and developing staff to have confidence in their work. I feel privileged to be in a position where I have the opportunity to change services to make them better for patients and carers.

What is the greatest challenge?

Ensuring I make time to give each service development project attention, and staff the support to ensure we stay on track while keeping a good work/life balance. That and dealing with the volume of emails.

Where would you like to be in 5 years’ time?

I will probably have retired. However, before I leave, I would like to ensure I have filled vacancies and have strong nurse leaders in positions to continue improving our service, and providing quality care.

What makes a good cancer nurse?

Nurses working in cancer should be passionate about their service, and knowledgeable of the impact of cancer on, not only the patient, but families and friends involved.

They should be strong advocates for patients and their profession, and confident members of the multidisciplinary team, able to work across boundaries and skilled in negotiation to ensure the best quality of care is given to each patient.

What nursing achievement makes you most proud?

Securing cancer nurse specialists for most tumour sites and developing the services to introduce the CNS key worker role – supporting patients and families. And developing a brilliant, dedicated, professional team who keep patients at the centre of all they do.

What inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by my lead nurse, the patients and the staff I work with who ensure all patients receive the best care and support we can give.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

I love my garden and having fun with my nieces and nephew. They keep me young!

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

Always listen to the patient. Have a five-year plan to guide your career progression, and ensure you take time out for yourself to have fun and relax.

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