My job

‘The road ahead won’t always be smooth – but it will be interesting’

Consultant breast services nurse Maria Noblet reveals how her nursing specialism cemented a desire to stay close to patients who are going through surgery.

Consultant breast services nurse Maria Noblet reveals how her nursing specialism cemented a desire to stay close to patients who are going through surgery


Maria Noblet

What is your job?

I am a consultant nurse within the breast services at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

What does your job involve?

Clinically, my role involves working with patients who have been referred by their GP with a breast symptom in the diagnostic setting. It often involves reassuring women that their symptom is not breast cancer related – and at other times delivering bad news. I support our family history service assessing individual women’s risk of developing breast cancer and I have a busy counselling practice where I see women with complex psychological needs.

My role also involves conducting nursing research and I am involved in several projects, all of which focus on the effect of nursing interventions on improving patient outcomes.

Alongside this, I manage a team of highly skilled breast care nurses and am involved in the strategic development of cancer nursing within the trust and also with the Wessex Cancer Alliance.

Why did you become a nurse?

I initially resisted going into nursing as my mum was a nurse. But during my summer holidays in sixth form, I went to work in a nursing home and I just knew that it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to show kindness and give support to people who were vulnerable.

How did you come to work in this specialist field?

I spent the early part of my career focusing on emergency, burns, plastics and vascular nursing. While working as a junior sister in the emergency department, the then nursing officer asked if I would temporarily work on the breast surgery ward. That was in 1985 and I have never looked back.

I realised that in the cancer nursing setting you can contribute to well-being in many ways. Cancer nursing requires technical ability, compassionate care, highly developed communication skills and the ability to help people recalibrate the experience of diagnosis to recovery, or in some instances, to a peaceful, dignified conclusion of their lives.

The diversity of this nursing specialism – and the desire to make things better – cemented my decision to stay close to patients who are going through surgery and treatment for cancer.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

Every day is different. I love the diversity and meeting different people. I work in a fabulous team and we have a common goal to constantly improve patient care. I enjoy the strategic element of my role internally supported by managers who help me convert clinical need into patient services, as well as the external strategic involvement I have in helping shape cancer nursing. The research element adds to the mix by helping influence best practice.

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

People are surviving with cancer and nurses will need to constantly update their knowledge so they can help their patients into the recovery stages of disease and beyond. Nurses will need to be mindful of the economic challenges the NHS faces and develop meaningful relationships with managers to help shape their services so that care is not compromised.

What qualities do you think a cancer nurse should possess?

Compassion, highly developed communication skills, tenacity, creativity, a desire to learn, strategic thinking, a passion to improve, professionalism and being a team player.

Outside work what do you enjoy doing?

Seeing my family and friends, visiting new places, swimming and cooking.

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

The road ahead won’t always be smooth, but it will be interesting.

Always remember we are here for our patients. Maintain your knowledge and skills. Keep your integrity and your standards high. Caring can take its toll, so ensure you look after yourself.

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