“I like to support patients on a sometimes bumpy path.”

Shaped by personal healthcare experience at a very young age, Jo Vick naturally took an interest in nursing and found her home in lung cancer care

How would you describe your role to someone you just met?

“A Cancer Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) is the liaison for patients from diagnosis through treatment and beyond. Because I have expertise in lung cancer, mesothelioma, and thymoma—including treatments and side effects—I support patients with these types of tumors with their emotional, psychological, practical, and physical needs.”

What does your typical working day look like?

“No day is ever the same, but the basic structure is to visit clinics and contribute to patient care through multidisciplinary (MDT) team meetings.” I also work with patients to develop individual treatment plans, provide clinical care and other caregivers to support.”

What made you decide to become a nurse?

“My first jobs were working as a healthcare assistant and medical secretary, which sparked my interest in healthcare. Also, when I was 13, my sister was very ill; She died when she was only 16, but before she died I helped care for my parents along with the community nurses who were so important to her and my parents. I think that experience led me into nursing.”

What attracted you to your current role?

“I had experience caring for patients with solid tumors, so I decided to specialize in lung cancer. Back then the results were tenuous and I wanted to take on a role that supported those who needed it. Being able to directly contribute to care via MDT meetings was attractive as caregivers often know things about patients that the entire team may not know. This can be helpful in planning their treatment.”

Who has had the biggest impact on your career?

“When I first applied to be a CNS resident at Royal Marsden, a CNS lung cancer worker named Sally encouraged me to seek more experience elsewhere, so I ended up working in a large non-specialist hospital. This boosted my confidence and resilience and helped me when I applied again. Professor Mary O’Brien, head of the pulmonary department, was also important. She has really nurtured my team and encouraged the development of the pulmonary CNS through studies, audits and the establishment of nurse-led clinics.”

What do you enjoy most about your role?

“Getting to know patients and carers and supporting them through what may be a bumpy treatment journey. That means showing interest in them as people and learning where and when they need support. I also like the diversity, the way treatments are getting better and being able to bring hope to people diagnosed with lung cancer.”

What has been the standout moment in your career so far?

“The 2014 World Conference on Lung Cancer was crucial. Advances such as immunotherapy and targeted therapies meant that nursing was at a tipping point. I have learned so much about how to support patients with innovative treatments and have been inspired by lectures on how CNS can impact patient care. I also won a Pursuing Excellence Award at The Royal Marsden’s 2022 Staff Achievement Awards – that was a good moment.”

What are your ambitions for the future?

“My next big step is retirement and I want to make sure I leave a successful team to continue providing the highest standard of care to patients. ”

What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?

“It is important to have strong organizational, team and network skills, a lot of emotional intelligence and resilience and to be reliable.”

career file

Name: Jo Vick

Job Title: Chief Lung Cancer Clinical Nurse (CNS)

Employer: The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust

Salary (or area/band): 8a

Average working time: 37.5 hours per week

Professional background: CNS lung cancer, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust (2013-20); Lung Cancer CNS, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2012-13)

Qualifications: RGN, BSc (Hons), Independent Prescriber