A day in the life of an IBD nurse
by Florence Chariah (RGN), IBD nurse, Barnet Hospital
I decided to be an IBD specialist Nurse, as I enjoy every aspect of dealing with conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, with a special focus on IBD.
I have been in post for the past 2 years, with a previous background in general gastroenterology. I work alongside a very proactive team of consultant gastroenterologists, specialist registrars, junior doctors, clinic & ward staff, endoscopy staff, all playing a very important part in ensuring that our service remains fluid with the ultimate aim of keeping our patients in remission and well informed.
I work in variety of settings including outpatients department, clinical ward areas, and the Medical Day Unit, with links to endoscopy units and primary care providers.
Interestingly, the range of our services is so varied, in that, every day is not entirely mapped out, or indeed predictable. My week consists of two planned clinics, reviewing patients who have been diagnosed with an IBD condition. This includes having a general chat about their wellbeing, compliance with medication, checking blood test results, or any other radiological imaging reports, answering questions and giving reassurance, providing education and some degree of counselling.
In between these times these days, I manage a telephone advice line, for patients, and carers, text and email service. I can receive communication from patients who are just requiring simple advice on their condition, medication, travelling, or may be experiencing some worrying symptoms. Telephone consults do indeed require remote assessment skills, and asking the correct questions, having recently taken a call from a patient, whom I thought was experiencing some acute obstructive symptoms, that warranted urgent review.
Calls like these are not unusual and I then make the decision based on the patient’s history, present symptoms (and blood results if available) to either admit to hospital or see as an emergency in clinic or outside clinic days.
There are days, when I am taking calls from GP`s requesting a clinic review of a patient or simply for some advice. I can be called to the ward at any time to offer advice and counsel newly diagnosed patients, and we also offer a standard 2 week clinic review post discharge. I can be called by the A& E team for advice/ review & request for a follow up review.
I also have a busy administrative role whether it is managing our databases, contributing to National Clinical Audits, seeking funding approval for expensive biologics, or liaising with our Research Practitioner about clinical trials.
Every day is interesting and can be challenging, in dealing with patients who may be acutely unwell, to patients who want some simple advice or reassurance, or who just want a listening ear. I strongly believe in building up a rapport with all my patients, so they feel comfortable and confident at any time to call on me, especially with sensitive issues. I enjoy getting to know all my patients personally; they are all unique and special to me and I indeed make it my mission to have the ability to recall, from memory, all of their medical history, making them feel more at ease on every clinical encounter.
My role is evolving and we are enhancing our service provisions to continue providing expert clinical care, education, and involvement in continued research in IBD.