Amanda’s Blog: Macmillan Head and Neck Advanced Nurse Practitioner

Amanda Naylor works closely with our Thames Valley Cancer Alliance to improve cancer care for patients. As World Cancer Day coincides with Year of the Nurse and Midwife, she tells us all about her job as a Macmillan Head and Neck Advanced Nurse Practitioner.

Why I wanted to become a nurse 

I was late to nursing.  I trained after having my children and having an appreciation of the support that the medical profession gave me during my pregnancy and felt this would be a rewarding career.

How my career has developed

I qualified in 2006 and started my nursing career as a band 5 Staff Nurse on an ear nose and throat/head and neck cancer surgical ward. I moved into a band 6 Head and Neck Cancer Support Nurse from 2009 until 2016 and most recently moved to Milton Keynes University Hospital to set up the head and neck service as a Band 7, Head and Neck Advanced Nurse Practitioner. 

On a typical day

I work 8am to 4pm Monday to Friday and in this time I cover head and neck cancer clinics, visit patients pre-operatively with the consultants and post-operatively on the ward rounds and support patients face to face and via telephone. I also provide teaching and support to nursing staff with tracheostomy and laryngectomy care and signpost people to other external services. 

How I’ve made a difference as a nurse

Over the last three and a half years I have built up the head and neck service, offering support to patients with complex needs that require input from a wide multi-disciplinary team.  This requires good communication between my own team, as well as liaising across different trusts to ensure patients have a smooth transition of care.  Milton Keynes now has its own branch of The Swallows Head and Neck Cancer support Group and this has been running successfully for the last two years, this is a patient led group. 

As part of my role, I am also involved in the education of tracheostomy/laryngectomy care and provide, as part of a team, regular training days to ensure the nursing staff feel confident and competent to look after this group of patients.  Challenges include staff availability for ongoing training and the having a larger team to be able to provide more training days.

What would you say to someone interested in a career in nursing

This career is not just for the young, I would encourage anyone to consider nursing. I did not start my nurse training until my 30’s and had my family.  Bringing up a family and the work I did prior to nursing has stood me in good stead for some of the skills you need in nursing i.e. multi-tasking, communication.  It is hard work, but extremely rewarding.