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60 seconds with... Bernie Wilson, lead chemotherapy nurse

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Bernie Wilson is lead chemotherapy nurse at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Merseyside, where she has worked for 28 years.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

I always knew I wanted to work in the health service and was doing my registered nurse training when my mum was diagnosed with cancer. Regular trips to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre with her made me realise that chemotherapy nursing was the route for me. The centre has a unique atmosphere and everyone was so caring. I wanted to be part of that team and help people going through treatment.

Where did you train?

At Arrowe Park Hospital, the Wirral, and The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre.

What was your first job?

I got to know the nurses at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre who cared for my mum. In 1985, they offered me a job as a staff nurse and I’ve worked here ever since.

From whom have you learnt the most in your career?

The whole team here has taught me so much - pharmacists radiographers, oncology consultants and of course the nurses. It’s a close knit team. We always try to help each other.

What advice would you give someone starting out?

Treat every patient as you would want your family to be treated. Maintain compassion - patients and their families will always appreciate this.

What is the most satisfying part of your job?

I enjoy spending time with my patients, especially in their homes where they are more relaxed. It’s satisfying to offer a home service and rewarding to be part of the treatments that are truly pioneering.

What is your proudest achievement?

Being part of the Clatterbridge in the community programme. The concept started in 1991 and in 1993 we began to deliver chemotherapy treatment in district general hospitals across the region. We now have seven clinics across Merseyside and Cheshire and deliver more than 1,400 treatments per week to patients closer to their home.

It’s satisfying to offer a home service and rewarding to be part of the treatments that are truly pioneering

What would you have done if you hadn’t become a nurse?

When I first started my training, I was looking at becoming a midwife, which obviously still falls within nursing. When I was very young, I wanted to be a nun - a completely different career path all together.

What job would you like to be doing in five years?

I’d like to think I’ll still be at The Clatterbridge, developing Chemo in the Community and making it more readily available for a greater number of patients.

What makes a good nurse?

The best nurses are the ones who never lose sight of why they started out in the profession. It can be very stressful but it’s important to remain compassionate and take motivation from those around you, be they patients or colleagues.

If you could change one thing in healthcare, what would it be?

It would be good to have an IT system that communicates across all levels of the NHS to provide a more seamless experience for patients.

What would your ideal weekend involve?

In summer I like to visit the Llyn Peninsula and go walking or kayaking with my family. In winter I enjoy clearing the garden and having a big bonfire.

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