What is a clinical nurse specialist?
A clinical nurse specialist, or CNS, is a nurse who has specialist knowledge of haematology, and acts as your first point of contact when it comes to your care. Your CNS is also a part of a wider group of healthcare professionals who meet to discuss your individual treatment plan (called a multi-disciplinary team, or MDT).
Do I have a CNS?
Every cancer patient should have access to a CNS. If you’re unsure whether you have one, or don’t think you have met your CNS, contact your haematology department. They’ll be able to give you more detail, and put you in touch with your nurse.
What role does a CNS have in my care?
As your first point of contact, your CNS plays an important role in your care, from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. They are there to guide you through your treatment by helping you make sense of all the information you’re given and answering any questions you may have.
They are also there to offer emotional support, and to discuss any concerns or worries you have about your diagnosis or treatment plan. They will be able to signpost you to different services and support organisations, like WMUK, and help you get access to benefits or grants when applicable.
A CNS is the link between you and the MDT, where they can advocate on your behalf when it comes to discussions about your treatment and care. If you have any new or worrying symptoms between appointments, they are the person to contact. They can assess treatment related problems, and refer on to other specialists when necessary.
How do I find my CNS?
The chances are, you may have already met them. Your CNS is often (but not always) the nurse you met after your diagnosis. They may have been there to answer any immediate questions you had, and handed you leaflets and reading material to take home.
You should be given your CNS’s contact details (name, email and/or phone number) at your first appointment, so you can get in touch if you have questions or are worried about any symptoms. If you haven’t got these details, get in touch with your haematology department and they’ll be able to give them to you.
Our Patient Support Manager, Bob, met up with two CNSs, Julia and Dani, to discuss their roles in more detail. Listen to their conversation on the WMUK podcast.