“It’s a very supportive environment” Providing expert palliative care while growing in my career

Sarah is a Clinical Nurse Specialist in the community team at Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice. Here, she talks about her passion for delivering palliative care in the Reading community and how Sue Ryder is supporting her career development.

Sue Ryder Nurse Sarah Gower
Sarah provides expert palliative care and support to people at home in the community

A personal connection

“After qualifying as a nurse in 2001 I spent a year working on a medical ward, but I always knew that I wanted to work in the community. I moved into district nursing and I did that for 17 years. 

“My brother was diagnosed with lung cancer and he received care from Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice before he died in June 2017. Being on the other end of Sue Ryder’s care as a family member, you see what an invaluable service they provide. I always knew I had a passion for palliative care but that’s when I knew I wanted to work for Sue Ryder.”

18 months after Sarah’s brother died, a developmental Clinical Nurse Specialist role was advertised and she was successful in her application.

Developing specialist skills and knowledge

“I had experience of palliative care in the community from being a district nurse, but I didn’t have any of the additional skills you need to be a Clinical Nurse Specialist, so I started in a developmental role. This means that you spend a year meeting certain competencies in order to develop and learn and then you get the opportunity to study further.

“I did the developmental role for a year and then, at the beginning of 2021, I did an Advanced History Taking course which is provided by Sue Ryder. I recently started a Non-Medical Clinical Prescribing course and, if I pass, then in six months’ time I will become a fully-fledged Clinical Nurse Specialist and I will be able to prescribe medication to my patients.

“Being out in the community is a lot more rewarding because you’re able to spend time with families”

“The area I cover is Reading. It can be challenging as it is a busy city centre and very diverse, but that’s also what makes the role exciting and challenging. You don’t meet the same sort of person twice and everyone is very different.

“That’s another reason why I like working in the community; you get to see people in their own environment, so it is very different to being on a ward or another care setting. Being out in the community is interesting and I find it a lot more rewarding because you’re able to spend time with families.

“The job can be tough; you have to be made of special stuff to be a palliative care nurse. You can have challenging days and it can be upsetting, but then on the other hand you get really rewarding days where you know you’ve made a difference to someone’s life, whether it’s something small or really big. I personally get a lot of job satisfaction out of doing this role.”

A constant support

“To make a positive difference to a family and for them to feel supported and know they’ve got somewhere to go to is what I aim for. I always say to my patients that if they have any questions then they can always phone me.

“There is never a stupid question. I might not know the answer, but I will always try and signpost them in the right direction. Just being accessible and being there for them is so important.”

“Sue Ryder provides good training and developmental opportunities”

“If someone was interested in the Clinical Nurse Specialist role then I would say to go for it. Sue Ryder provides good training and developmental opportunities; I will have gone from a nurse to a nurse prescriber in three years, which is quite an achievement.

“We’ve got a fabulous team. When I first came here it was like I’d walked into a family of people who would look after and care for me. It’s a very supportive environment to learn and grow and you get the opportunities to develop.”

Join our team and be there when it matters

Sue Ryder Duchess of Kent Hospice is currently searching for Clinical Nurse Specialists to join its 'Outstanding' CQC-rated service and provide specialist care to patients in the community in Reading, Wokingham or Newbury. 

Read stories from other Sue Ryder Nurses about their experiences of providing care in our hospices and neurological care centres.

A nursing career in palliative care with Sue Ryder

If Sarah's story has inspired you to consider palliative care nursing, please get in touch. By joining our team, you'll support us to help people through the most difficult times of their lives.